AIR in the news


Please find below press clips of AIR.

In Britain, Watch Sellers Shocked at End of Sales Tax Refund

The New York Times
19/11/20

“We’ll have Chinese visitors, because the market is growing, but they just won’t be spending money here” said Paul Barnes, chief executive of the Association of International Retail in Britain. “They’ll come and visit the U.K., but they’ll wait until they get to France to do their shopping.”

Read the full article here.

U.K. Tax-Refund Repeal Is a New Headache for Retail Property Owners

The Wall Street Journal
24/11/20

“I thought that the point of Brexit was that we were going to become more competitive,” said Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of the New West End Company, which represents some 600 businesses in central London, including Nike Inc., Apple Inc., and Ralph Lauren Corp. “This is going to affect not just London but regional cities like Edinburgh which rely on tourists.”

Read the full article here.

End of VAT refunds would deter Chinese UK visitors

China Daily
25/09/20

Paul Barnes chief executive of the Association of International Retail said: “Chinese visitors are by far the biggest international shoppers in the UK and shopping is the main reason they visit. If Britain ends its tax-free scheme, Chinese travellers are much more likely to visit any other European country for shopping. At a time when the British tourism industry and London’s international centres are already suffering so much from the impact of COVID-19, it seems a very damaging and unnecessary political decision”.

Read the full article here.

Retailers On Collision Course With U.K. Treasury Over Abolition Of Tax-Free Shopping

Forbes
23/09/20

The Association of International Retail (AIR) says that one reason the U.K. government is dropping tax-free shopping is that the current paper-based validation system used by the tax department, HMRC, would not be able to manage VAT refunds once they become available to EU tourists from January. EU travellers account for 70% of all U.K. visitors.

AIR’s CEO Paul Barnes believes that a way forward could be through a cooperative stance. “Government should use the 18-month window of low international visitor numbers (due to Covid-19) to work with retailers and their partners to provide a digital solution to the validation element,” he said. “Linked to existing retailer digital infrastructure, this will provide the necessary capacity within 12 months and at no cost to government. Retailers have done this with many governments around the world.”

Read the full article here.

Bye, bye tax-free shopping

National Herald India
18/12/20

“Madrid, Milan and Paris are rubbing their hands with glee at this self-inflicted wound,” said Paul Barnes, head of the Association of International Retail. “If we charge a fifth more for the same goods, international visitors will not hesitate to switch their city breaks to other countries”.

Read the full article here.

Fortnum & Mason boss hits out over tourist tax that could cost businesses at least £2bn

Daily Mail
26/12/20

“Paul Barnes, chief executive of the Association of International Retail, said long-distance tourists who travel from places such as China – which puts £1billion into shop tills – may instead skip Britain and head to Paris where the loophole remains. He said: “Non-EU visitors spend around £18billion a year in the UK. Only £3billion is on shopping, which you could call a ‘loss leader’, but the remaining £15billion is VAT-able. Yet the Treasury has admitted that it only looked at shopping, not the wider impact on the economy”.

Read the full article here.

40,000 jobs are under threat if duty-free shopping is scrapped, retail organisation warns Rishi Sunak

Daily Mail, This is Money
21/11/20

Last night, Paul Barnes, chief executive of AIR, said: “I would urge the Chancellor to look again at the numbers. It is not just the high street that he is putting at risk, but also people’s livelihoods”.

Read the full article here.

Ending VAT-free shopping ‘will hit UK tourism and retail’

The BBC
20/09/20

The Association of International Retail (AIR), which co-wrote the letter, urged the chancellor to “look again at this devastating decision”.

Read the full article here.

End of duty-free shopping for tourists may mean big job losses

Telegraph
30/09/20

Paul Barnes, chief executive of the Association of International Retail, criticised the decision to scrap tax-free shopping.  “Making the UK the only European country not to offer [it] to international visitors sends totally the wrong message to the world. And it needlessly damages the UK’s retail, tourism and manufacturing industries, already struggling to survive Covid-19,”

Read the full article here.

Move to end VAT-free shopping for tourists ‘needs more scrutiny’

Telegraph
04/12/20

Paul Barnes, chief executive of the Association of International Retail, said: “There is every chance that the £400m, they think they will be making will be more than wiped out … the moment you take away tax free shopping they will go to France or Germany.” 

Read the full article here.

What is the tourist VAT tax and why is Duty Free allowance being cut?

Evening Standard
03/12/20

Estimates by business bodies such as the Association of International Retail suggest that more than one million high spending tourists will be deterred from visiting Britain, or at the very least, reduce the number and duration of their visits.

Read the full article here.

Heathrow Airport to launch legal review over VAT-free shopping ban

Yahoo News
02/11/20

The Association of International Retail (AIR) urged the chancellor to “look again at this devastating decision”.

Read the full article here.

VAT change ‘will cost Edinburgh £90m’ and could affect 1800 jobs

The National
22/09/20

Paul Barnes: “The Government’s decision to eradicate tax free shopping in the UK will impact Britain’s reputation and appeal as a global shopping destination, providing further damage to our struggling economy. Outside of London, Edinburgh is a key tourist attraction for visitors, proven in the growing number of international flights to Edinburgh airport. The removal of tax free shopping will not only impact the cities retail sector but be a huge blow for hotels and restaurants who are reliant on international visitors”.

Read the full article here.

Boris Johnson shows why he’s bad for business, jobs and the economy – Angus Robertson

Edinburgh Evening News
22/09/20

According to the Association of International Retail, nearly a fifth of the £22bn spent in UK by international tourists was in Edinburgh.

Read the full article here.

Marks & Spencer, Selfridges and Heathrow blast Chancellor’s plans to impose tourist tax raid

Retail Times
21/09/20

Paul Barnes, CEO of the Association of International Retail, said: “The Chancellor needs to look again at this devastating decision, as it simply doesn’t add up and will lead to the loss of tens of thousands of tourism and retail jobs right across the UK. Madrid, Milan and Paris are rubbing their hands with glee at this self-inflicted wound. If we charge a fifth more for the same goods, international visitors will not hesitate to switch their city breaks to other countries and the stores and jobs will follow within months.”

 “UK travellers who’ve shopped abroad and enjoyed a discount will recognise how important these schemes are, and how quickly those savings are then spent on extra holiday treats. In taking this money out of the hands of our own international visitors, the Chancellor is impoverishing all those who depend on tourist spending right across the UK”.

Read the full article here.

Time to woo overseas shoppers

Property Week
02/07/20

Open-ed by Paul Barnes, CEO of the Association of International Retail

Read the full article here.

UK to end VAT-free shopping for visitors on Jan 1

Fibre2Fashion.com
22/10/20

The Association of International Retail (AIR), which co-wrote the letter, urged the chancellor to “look again at this devastating decision”. It cautioned the United Kingdom will become the only European country not to offer VAT-free shopping for international visitors.

”Madrid, Milan and Paris are rubbing their hands with glee at this self-inflicted wound,” said AIR boss Paul Barnes.

”If we charge a fifth more for the same goods, international visitors will not hesitate to switch their city breaks to other countries, and the stores and jobs will follow within months”.

Read the full article here.

Zut alors: Why London could lose £1.1 billion in fashion sales to Paris

The Telegraph
29/01/21

“These people – who mostly come from China and the Middle East – have contributed a huge amount to the British economy but will simply make the choice not to shop in the UK because it is less advantageous to them,” says Paul Barnes, the CEO of Association of International Retail. “We are now the only country in Europe offering no VAT rebate, so why would tourists not go to Paris instead, if they can save thousands of euros on luxury goods there and nothing here?”

Read the full article here.

Retail’s 3 R’s: Reopening, Recovery, Resilience

DRD Partnership
20/02/21

Ahead of the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday, DRD Partner and Chief Executive of the Association for International Retail (AIR), Paul Barnes, shares his insight about what’s in store for the retail and hospitality sectors in the coming weeks and months.  

Read the full article here.

Tax-Free Sales, The Traveler Experience, And The Airport Financial Model

Forbes

09/03/2021

 

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.

Read the full article here.

Media coverage of AIR's tax free shopping campaign


Ending VAT-free shopping 'will hit UK tourism and retail'

Source: BBC News

Chancellor warned scrapping tax-free shopping risks 70,000 jobs

Source: The Guardian

Rishi Sunak faces backlash from retail giants including Selfridges, Harrods and Marks & Spencer over plans to axe tax-free shopping that ‘will drive foreign shoppers to Paris’

Source: The Mail on Sunday

Scrapping VAT relief for international visitors will have ‘untold impact’ on Greater Manchester economy, industry leaders warn

Source: Business Live

News on AIR's COVID-19 support


The Chancellor has announced an extension to the furlough scheme until October and more flexibility and some employer contribution from August

Click here to read

In response to this, 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.”

AIR Briefing: Continuing business support for companies with significant sales to international visitors

Nickie Aiken MP's letter to UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP

Tory MP calls on government to extend job retention scheme

Source: City A.M

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Pre-lockdown COVID-19 response

Now updated and incorporated in the AIR, New West End Company and Walpole International Retail Campaign

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