Following a surge in tourism, there have been new calls for the government to reconsider its decision to eliminate duty-free shopping for foreign visitors.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, emphasized the need for the government to capitalize on the increase in summer tourism by “reintroducing VAT relief for international visitors to enhance the appeal of the UK in comparison to other destinations and stimulate expenditure,”
This demand comes as data from the trade association indicates that footfall in high streets and major cities has seen an increase, largely driven by international tourism.
Recent statistics from the BRC-Sensormatic IQ Footfall Monitor reveal a modest 0.6% rise in high street footfall in June, with a corresponding 0.6% increase in footfall in London compared to the previous year.
“Shopping habits continue to evolve as the high cost of living influences people’s behavior and preferences,” stated Dickinson.
“We observed a decline in visits to shopping centers and retail parks compared to last year. However, footfall in high street locations and major cities improved due to the rise in international tourism.”
The elimination of duty-free shopping for foreign visitors occurred after Brexit, and luxury retail executives have cautioned that this has been diverting spending towards other fashion capitals in Europe.
This shift resulted in the closure of Mulberry’s Bond Street store earlier this year.
At the time, a spokesperson from the luxury fashion retailer remarked, “The absence of VAT-free shopping in the UK has been particularly impactful on Bond Street, which has always been a renowned shopping destination for tourists. The decrease in visitors has had an impact on footfall and sales.”