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.
This update focuses on AIR’s recent activities at Party Conference, where we were able to soft-launch our three key campaigns which, together, will help to increase Britain’s appeal as an overseas destination, particularly to high spending international visitors. These campaigns are:
- enhancing UK visitor visas for the Middle East and China;
- replacing or restoring tax-free shopping on high streets and in airports; and
- excluding Britain’s two International Centres from Sunday opening restrictions.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to make AIR a strong voice for campaigning on the issues that are so important to securing a positive future for the international retail sector.
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.
For further information on the campaign and how you can help, contact Paul Barnes, Chief Executive, AIR, on 07969111619 or at email@example.com
⇒ 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'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.