Jul 6, 2020
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England's quarantine U-turn still excludes highest spenders says Walpole

Jul 6, 2020

While England’s U-turn on quarantine rules for visitors from a raft of countries should help British tourism and retail, the luxury sector remains concerned that there are too many exclusions. It said visitors from some of the countries that are the most important sources of luxury shoppers are still having to quarantine for 14 days when they arrive in Britain.

Britain's luxury stores face the prospect of empty spaces unless key tourist shoppers can be allowed back - Photo: Sandra Halliday

“The British luxury sector calls for further changes to travel quarantine rules so that it can return to growth and support ‘Brand Britain’ across the globe,” said luxury body Walpole.

It said it “welcomed the government announcement that exemptions to the 14-day quarantine rules in England will be made to 60 countries including a selection from the APAC region from 10 July, but urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to do more to encourage overseas visitors to UK cities and shops safely by exempting additional low-risk countries”.

At present, visitors from key economies such as France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Japan can travel to England without having to quarantine. But the US, China, Russia and Middle Eastern countries are all still on the list of countries whose arrivals have to quarantine when arriving in Britain. This effectively excludes a massive number of the highest-spending visitors from Britain.

Helen Brocklebank, CEO of Walpole, said: “The British luxury sector can play a crucial part in rebuilding our economy and reinforcing Britain’s reputation as a creative and cultural leader across the globe. But government support for the sector is needed by working harder to encourage international shoppers back to our shores safely.”
And luxury is key to a return to growth. Before the lockdown, the luxury sector was growing at 9.6% annually, outpacing UK annual growth of 4%.

The luxury sector on average endured a 60% revenue decline due to the lockdown in the first half of this year and Walpole said “the sector will return to growth more rapidly if international tourism is encouraged. Furthermore, relaxation of the regime will bolster the tourist industry and the many inter-related sectors which contribute to the British creative economy”.

Brocklebank also said the “British luxury sector’s appeal will dwindle if overseas customers are not given the opportunity to visit the UK for the full brand experience which is particularly important for customers from international markets. Shoppers must be encouraged to visit the UK.”

Tourist revenues account for between 25% and 80% of the total for British luxury businesses and major retailers such as Harrods and Selfridges see a huge percentage of their sales going to international high-spenders. Last week Harrods said it was cutting jobs due to the tourism downturn.

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