Lux­ury for less: Tourists are win­ners in pound’s drop

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Danica Kirka and Paul Traynor

Would you travel half­way around the world for a hand­bag, or a coat? Maybe if you re­ally loved it — and could get 20 per­cent off.

At the mo­ment, the price is right in Bri­tain, where the de­ci­sion to leave the Euro­pean Union has led to a sharp drop in the pound. That’s prov­ing a bo­nanza for lux­ury goods shop­pers with for­eign cur­rency to spend.

Amy Chang, a 30-yearold from China, snagged a Burberry trench coat this week while vis­it­ing London for her sis­ter’s grad­u­a­tion.

“I’ve had my eye on it for a long time and I’ve al­ways thought it was too ex­pen­sive,” she said, gaz­ing through the Burberry win­dow shops in New Bond Street, the heart of high-end shop­ping in London. “But now, coming to Bri­tain, it’s ac­tu­ally much cheaper than in China, so I fi­nally bought it.”

The pound has lost al­most a fifth of its value against the dol­lar since the June 23 ref­er­en­dum on EU mem­ber­ship be­cause of un­cer­tainty about Bri­tain’s eco­nomic prospects. That means tourist dol­lars go far­ther, and vis­i­tors are rush­ing to buy be­fore re­tail­ers jack up their prices.

Julie Deane, founder of the Cambridge Satchel Co., said the bar­gains have had a “mas­sive ef­fect” on tourist spend­ing.

“They come and check out the ex­change rate and what it’s go­ing to cost them and of­ten that will mean that they go ahead and put a sec­ond bag in,” she told the BBC. “In some cases it’s been five bags and six bags.”

The U.K. is cur­rently the cheap­est place to buy lux­ury goods, with 64 per­cent of prod­ucts sell­ing for less in Bri­tain than in the U.S., China and France, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey by the pro­fes­sional ser­vices firm Deloitte.

For ex­am­ple, the Louis Vuit­ton Speedy 30, a can­vas hand­bag em­bla­zoned with the iconic LV mono­gram, sells for the equiv­a­lent of $837 in the U.K. and $1,117 in China, Deloitte found.

And wanna be shop­pers — par­tic­u­larly those from the Far East — are rush­ing to London be­fore re­tail­ers ad­just prices to off­set the pound’s de­cline. Visit Bri­tain, the na­tional tourism agency, says flight-reser­va­tion data shows book­ings from China to Bri­tain are up 24 per­cent for the last three months of the year com­pared with the same pe­riod in 2015.

Chi­nese vis­i­tors, many of whom are in­ter­ested in the crafts­man­ship and au­then­tic­ity of U.K. brands, like the bou­tique as­pect of London shops but are also at­tracted to the new out­let ar­eas such as Hack­ney Walk in London and Bices­ter Vil­lage in Ox­ford­shire.

“The lux­ury mar­ket is one of the most com­pet­i­tive — if not the most com­pet­i­tive in the world,” said Anusha Cout­ti­gane, an an­a­lyst at Kan­tar Re­tail. “The fact that the pound has seen such mas­sive de­val­u­a­tion has made re­tail a far more at­trac­tive mar­ket for con­sumers who had been priced out of the mar­ket pre­vi­ously. It’s cre­ated a boon, a much needed boon,

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Shop­pers leave a Burberry store in London on Fri­day.

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