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British Travelers Seen Taking $3 Billion in Duty-Free Shopping to the Continent

Europe’s retailers could see an influx of British tourists looking to make it rain at the continent’s tax-free shopping destinations.

British travelers are expected to account for 1.10 billion euros ($1.33 billion) of duty-free shopping sales at stores across the European Union in the wake of the U.K. nixing its tax free shopping scheme in January. As a result, international jetsetters who would otherwise touch down in Great Britain for a spending spree might reallocate 1.50 billion euros ($1.81 billion) of their spending to places like France and Italy, which could see all global visitors boost spending with European retailers by 2.60 billion euros ($3.14 billion), according to Global Blue, a Swiss tourism shopping tax-refund firm.

“The new rules resulting from Brexit and the abolition of the Tax Free Shopping scheme in the U.K. have created a large opportunity for EU retailers to capture more business from international shoppers in the coming years,” said Mathieu Grac, Global Blue’s vice president, intelligence. “To realize this potential, it is important for…Europe’s retailers to understand the profiles of the new shoppers that will be coming into their stores and ensure that they can cater to their specific set of expectations.”

So, which EU member nations could benefit?

U.K. tourists—no longer considered EU residents—cited a preference for Spain (30 percent), Greece (11 percent), Italy and Portugal (9 percent apiece) and France (6 percent), all based on Covid-19 sanitization standards when thinking about travel this summer.

Overall, 60 percent of respondents said they are more likely to spend in shops if they can claim back the VAT (value-added tax). Seventy percent said they are most likely to spend on clothes and accessories, followed by wine and alcohol at 45 percent and perfume and cosmetics, also 45 percent.

A Global Blue survey of 45,000 international shoppers earlier this year showed that their top alternative destinations cited were France at 40 percent, followed by Italy, 30 percent, and Germany and Spain each at 10 percent.