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.

AIR's COVID-19 response

From the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, AIR has been representing to Government the interests of international retail to ensure the strongest possible recovery when visitors start to return, hopefully early in 2021.

As the pandemic developed the situation changed and AIR’s responses have reflected those changes.

In addition, the deteriorating diplomatic relationship with China has required an approach which supports continuing Chinese tourism but recognises, in parallel, the need to enhance activities to attract high spending shoppers from other countries.

You can read more about AIR’s earlier activities in response to COVID-19 here.

Government plans to abolish tax-free shopping

AIR has expressed its surprise and disappointment at the Government’s decision to abolish tax free shopping from December 31st 2020.

AIR is working with trade bodies and businesses across all affected sectors to seek to overturn this decision.

You can see the AIR letter to the Chancellor signed by 21 senior CEOs across the UK, arranged by AIR here.

You can see AIR’s short briefing here.

You can see AIR’s long briefing here.

You can see Cebr Economic Research here.

You can see the results of the international traveller consumer research and the key figures from the Cebr Economic Research here.

You can see AIR's media release here.

You can see the Treasury's Technical Note on VAT RES and airside tax-free shopping here, and AIR's response here.

You can read AIR's response to HMT's Mythbuster Note here.

You can read the latest briefing here.

For further information on the campaign and how you can help, contact Paul Barnes, Chief Executive, AIR, on 07969111619 or at pauldavoutbarnes@gmail.com

In the News

The most recent news coverage of AIR's campaign can be found below.
19th November 2020
We’ll have Chinese visitors...but they just won’t be spending money here.
Paul Barnes, chief executive of the Association of International Retail
Read Article