Traditionally, U.S. tourists enjoy shopping when they travel abroad. According to a report by UNWTO, the World Tourism Organization, in 2014 U.S nationals were the second highest spenders in the world, just after China, spending a total $112 billion, and growing 7% year-on-year.
The Office for National Statistics reported that US visitors increased by 9.7% in 2015 to 3.3 million. According to an estimate by the UK National Tourism Agency Visit Britain,they are the top spenders in the UK market; data confirmed by the International Passenger Survey 2015, curated by the Office for National Statistics, with 3 billion spent on shopping by U.S. visitors.
UK brands are particularly attractive for American visitors. In a survey conducted by Visit Britain, 51% of prospective tourists from the U.S. declared they would certainly shop for British brands if they visited, while 19% chose “Shopping in Harrods” as one of the main activities they would undertake once in the UK.
Effect of Brexit on the U.S. spending
Last summer’s post-Brexit drop in the British pound against the U.S. Dollar made the UK even more an attractive place for US tax free shoppers. In 2016, UK sales from US visitors grew by an incredible +38% year on year, +22% only in the month of July.
The luxury market in particular benefited from the effect of a weak pound.
According to a report published by Deloitte in October 2016, in the aftermath of Brexit the UK became the most affordable luxury market in the world. Luxury hotels reported an increase in the number of visitors from the US. Claridge’s and The Connaught confirmed they had “the best ever July on record”, with “particularly high occupancy from the U.S. and Europe”.
The positive effects stretched over the Christmas period, with an increase in U.S. tourists spend of +77 year-on-year. The increase was especially driven by American shoppers seeking for luxury products. Luxury Jewellers in London have confirmed an increased spend from Americans purchasing watches and jewellery in the U.K.
But the US big spenders were not the only ones to enjoy the favourable dollar/pound conversion. The online hotel booking service Trivago reported that travel interest from US visitors to the UK rose 13 per cent in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum, while Cheapflights, the price comparison website, said that searches for flights into the UK from the US have risen by more than 20% in the month following Brexit.
Predictions for 2017
Analysts from the Deutsche Bank predicted a rise in the US GDP over the next year, which means, in turn, a bigger budget for US shoppers, which could create highly favourable conditions for Americans to travel and spend abroad.
US travel expert AAA confirms this view, claiming that 42% of Americans plan to travel both to the US and abroad, while according to a report by Choice Hotels, Americans will increase travel spending in 2017 and that 28% of them will Europe next year, with London among the top 3 destinations.
About GB TaxFree
GB TaxFree provides retailers with a completely bespoke experience. This is a customised service for both merchants and tax free shoppers, as we appreciate everyone’s needs are different. We actively work to increase international footfall and are delivering significant results for customers such as WEMPE, Chopard and Rolex One Hyde Park.
The GB TaxFree team has a real passion to ensure the most outstanding service is delivered in every aspect. The VIP services provides range from meeting and greeting the customer kerb side at Heathrow and Gatwick, to assisting them through their last journey before going home. We ensure that the customers receive their refund with no difficulty and no hassles. While receiving the VAT back, we even make sure that the customer receives the denominations they prefer. This is a free service to the merchant and you can offer it to whichever of the retailer’s customers they choose. Their VIP customers are our VIP customers.