Paul Barnes CEO of the Association of International Retail (AIR) tells Forbes.com: “Tax-free sales, apart from in Hainan, are virtually zero across the world right now because there is not much international travel due to the pandemic. When travel resumes, high spenders who travel a lot will choose to shop in Paris or Milan and skip Britain for shopping, even if they come here. They may also spend less time in the country.” That will mean lost revenue to the wider hospitality industry.
High-rolling travelers spend disproportionately more on tax-free shopping. In 2019, 13% of them accounted for 42% of all tax-free shopping in Britain and the top 1% account for 20% of it. That elite group splash out an average £60,000 each year according to AIR and their average £12,000 tax refund will be a major motivator in their choice of destination.
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