COVID-19


Continuing business support for companies with significant sales to international visitors


AIR is campaigning to ensure that the Government recognises the position of businesses that rely wholly or partly on spending by international visitors when considering the future of its coronavirus business support measures.

In particular we are proposing that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furloughing) should be tapered to take account of the delay in the return of international visitors and should be flexible to allow part-time furloughing and working.

Nickie Aiken MP has written to the Chancellor, Business Secretary and Culture Secretary on our behalf.

You can read her letter here

You can read AIR’s briefing here

You can see media coverage here

UPDATE: 12th May 2020 - Early success on furlough extension campaign - more to be done.
The Chancellor has today announced an extension to the furlough scheme until October and more flexibility and some employer contribution from August. You can read the Chancellor's statement here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-extends-furlough-scheme-until-october

Paul Barnes, CEO of The Association of International Retail said: “Covid-19 is financially impacting many sectors, but none more so – and none will suffer for as long – as those dependent on international visitors.  We are pleased that our campaign for greater flexibility around part-time furloughing has been successful so far, but we’re concerned that the Government’s support may stop abruptly in October, before overseas visitors return in meaningful numbers.  Cutting the cord too soon will not just be catastrophic for retailers, theatres, hotels and their associated businesses – its cumulative effect will risk London and the UK’s position as a leading global destination.  We await further detail later this month and will continue to campaign for the support needed by the international retail sector, otherwise we risk seeing some of our historic businesses shutting up shop for good.”

UPDATE: 1st July 2020 - AIR has written to the Chancellor in advance of his July statement proposing cost-free measures to help this sector recover strongly from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read the letter here.

→ COVID-19 business support campaign ←

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About us


International retail is the sector of the retail industry that makes sales to visitors to the UK from abroad. Many of the goods purchased are subsequently exported when those visitors leave the UK.

Launched in March 2020, AIR works together with businesses, organisations and Government to ensure that the policy and economic environment allows international retail in the UK to realise its full growth potential.

Our aim is to help retailers throughout the UK enhance their sales to international visitors. AIR’s focus is on communicating the importance to sector, identifying and promoting policy changes that will help drive growth and providing market and international competitor research.