The Strategist

Trump’s immigration policy scares Hispanic shoppers away

05/30/2017 - 13:58

Once the power in the US changed, Hispanic inhabitants of the country sharply reduced consumer activity. Consequently, profit of companies targeting this group of people has fallen by 30-50%.

Portal Abras via flickr
Portal Abras via flickr
The Spanish-speaking people began to spend less, including because of fears of being deported, says British newspaper The Financial Times. Recall, intensification of the fight against illegal immigrants was one of Donald Trump’s main pre-election promises of. He has already issued several decrees against illegal aliens, and the US Department of Homeland Security has tightened the rules for their deportation.

According to the latest data from the US Immigration and Customs Police, 41.3 thousand migrants were arrested from the end of January to the end of April 2017. This is almost 40% more than for the same period in 2016. At the same time, the number of people arrested solely on suspicion that they are illegally residing in the country increased by more than 150%.

The number of Hispanics in the US is estimated at 57 million, which is more than one sixth of the country's population. The US Immigration and Customs Police suspects there are about 11 million illegal immigrants among them. There are also data that from 25 million to 30 million Hispanic, that are residing in the United States legally, yet have relatives who are illegal immigrants. In the case of Hispanics, for whom kinship ties are traditionally very important, this moment becomes particularly acute.

According to representatives of business, focused on the Hispanic, the latter are now saving money in case they or their loved ones suffer. However, even those people who live in the US legally are afraid of humiliating checks, so they rarely appear in public places. Many companies, including shops, bars, restaurants, nightclubs and service providers in the Latin American neighborhoods reported a double-digit decline in revenue.

"Our companies, whose clients are residents of Hispanic communities, say that their business has decreased from one third to one half. The immigrant community is very frightened. They do not know what will happen. It looks like people go out only to go to work or return home. They do not want to stand out", said Carlos Gomez, president of the Chamber of Commerce for Spanish-speaking business people in Kansas City.

Police departments of major cities such as Houston or San Francisco note that immigrants have become less likely to report crimes committed against them because of fears of being detained and deported. According to human rights activists, this could lead to an increase in crime in the Hispanic regions.

Marketers have already noticed these changes. In recent years, Latin Americans have been considered a very attractive group in the United States. For example, the Zelig Economic Growth Center at the University of Georgia expected that by 2020 their total spending would reach $ 1.7 trillion. Many corporations, including Walmart, McDonald's, Ford, spent billions of dollars to attract Hispanic buyers.

Recently, the amount of advertising focused on Hispanic, noticeably decreased, says the FT. However, it concerns first of all small companies, especially carefully following expenses.

So, Viva Partnership agency from Miami faced the fact that four companies (two retailers, a financial group and a manufacturing company), refused Hispanic-oriented marketing. "They said they were not sure if it was the right time to focus on minority markets now, "in the new political climate", as they describe it", said Viva’s owner Linda Lane Gonzalez. "I spoke with many agencies, they experienced the same thing. We all lost three or four clients in this "new political climate", which I would call racism", she said.

Ms. Gonzalez believes that the situation started to change dramatically since November last year. Some companies have begun to fear that retaining bilingual signs and other ways to attract Spanish-speaking customers can anger consumers and employees who voted for Donald Trump.

According to her, such sentiments are strongly manifested in the Midwest and the South-East, where immigrants from Latin America are small in number, and are mainly employed in low-skilled jobs. A much less hostile attitude towards Hispanic people is evident in major cities such as New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles.