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.

⇒ Please click here to read the latest update from Jace Tyrrell, Chairman of AIR.

Latest Update

Welcome to our monthly update of AIR’s activities and plans.

In the past twelve months, working with you, we have established AIR as a voice in tourism, retail and growth policy and as an authority on the international retail sector.

Now, 2021 is the year that we start our sector’s recovery and planning for the large-scale return of international customers in 2022. Our aim is to grow the value of international retail sales in a sustainable way as the COVID-19 threat recedes, and planning has started on ensuring the strongest and fastest possible recovery of sales to international customers.

To continue making AIR as effective as possible, we would like your thoughts on our priorities and your suggestions for any other areas on which we should focus. Leading AIR supporters will be meeting in May to agree a programme of work (see below for details).  I want to hear your views and would be grateful if you could complete our short survey to help set AIR’s direction and focus for the year ahead.

Your support to date has been invaluable.  Thank you for investing your time and resources in our new Association.  I look forward to working with you all over the coming years to rebuild international retail and make Britain, once again, a world leading shopping destination.

⇒ Please click here to read the latest update from Jace Tyrrell, Chairman of AIR.

Tax-free shopping (VAT RES and ESC)

AIR has been at the heart of the campaign to oppose the Government’s decision to end tax free shopping which will cost UK retailers up to £1.5 billion in lost sales annually, lead to around 40,00 redundancies across the UK, over and above any COVID-19 job losses, and is likely to result in a net loss of VAT income for the Treasury.

⇒ You can see more about the campaign to date and future plans here.
⇒ You can see some selected media coverage here.
⇒ You can see key documents here.

For further information on the campaign and how you can help, contact Paul Barnes, Chief Executive, AIR, on 07969111619 or at paul@internationalretail.co.uk

⇒ Please click here to read a statement from Paul Barnes, CEO of AIR on Chancellor Rishi Sunak's 2021 Budget.

Please click here to read the AIR Statement about Tax-Free Shopping Judicial Review.

AIR Survey

The Future of Britain’s International Retail Sector

AIR is keen to learn your thoughts on the future growth of the international retail sector in the UK and what you think should be our Association’s policy priorities over the next few years. These will be used to inform the Board as it explores and agrees our future programme of activities.

Please feel free to make any comments and suggestions you wish.

All individual responses will be anonymous and confidential.  We will use some of the combined results to support and promote our activities with decision makers, opinion formers and the media.

⇒ Please click here to take the survey.

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.

With international visitor numbers unlikely to start growing until at least the second half of 2021 AIR will work with partners to promote enhanced marketing activities and reducing regulatory barriers, such as the visa application systems in key markets.

The AIR Chairman and Chief Executive sit on the Government’s Tourism Industry Emergency Response Group (TIER) and our Chairman is on regular COVID-19 meetings with the Business Secretary and Retail Minister.

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

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.

In the News

Below are the latest media reports related to AIR.
⇒ You can browse all media reports by clicking here.