Exchange rate fluctuations and international business cycles may acutely affect retail sales in border regions where residents have the option of shopping in the neighboring country. This study examines the determinants of retail sales in six cities located along Mexico’s northern border. Retail activity in these cities is found to increase in tandem with real depreciations of the peso, lower unemployment rates in neighboring US counties, and increased border crossings. Taken together, these results suggest that cross-border shopping contributes to retail activity in the northern border region of Mexico. The opportunities for cross-border shopping may also condition the impact of violent crime on border-region retail sales. In recent years northern Mexico has been deeply affected by a crime wave associated with competition among drug cartels. Homicides related to organized crime are found to have a statistically significant negative impact on retail sales. A surge in crime levels may stifle retail activity in affected areas as extortion and attacks force some stores to close or reduce operating schedules at the same time that some potential customers elect to shop in relatively safer districts across the international divide.