The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has called on the chancellor to reinstate duty-free shopping for overseas visitors, and extend it to EU visitors. The Mayor also added it would provide a ‘much needed boost’ to the retail sector in London.
Bosses of major UK retailers including Selfridges and Harrods have also spoken out regarding duty-free shopping, saying the capital has been ‘disadvantaged’ by the end of the perk.
The tax-free shopping scheme for overseas visitors was scrapped in Britain at the end of 2020 following Brexit. However, it remained in place in Northern Ireland due to the ‘Northern Ireland Protocol’.
The retail sector was one of the hardest hit due to the Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, with thousands opting to shop online. Despite this, In 2022, the retail sector performed much better than expected according to Retail Focus.
A hard couple of years for the industry hasn’t been made any easier with the emergence of the cost of living crisis, forcing households to rein in their spending with a rise in charity shop sales as consumers look for cheaper alternatives.
Before Brexit, people shopping at High Street shops, at airports or other departure points from the UK could receive a VAT refund from items purchased. Mr Khan said reinstating this would help the sectors concerned ‘at a time they need it most’.