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Petition to Government to review the decision to abolish Tax-Free Shopping in the UK

Ever since the Government announced the ending of tax-free shopping for non-EU visitors from January 1st 2021, Shaftesbury has been supporting the campaigning alongside trade bodies and businesses throughout the UK to persuade the Chancellor to reverse the decision. 

Whilst there is a political and media programme to support this campaigning, there is a petition on the Government & Parliament website which we would encourage you to complete if you feel it is important to London and the UK to keep tax-free shopping.

You can find the petition on the Government & Parliament website, https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/555140 and can see more about the campaign at www.internationalretail.co.uk

Whilst ending tax-free shopping will have a direct impact on shops that operate the tax-free shopping scheme, it will also have an indirect impact on all businesses in international shopping districts as Britain becomes less attractive to international visitors. Some of these non-EU travellers will choose to visit other European countries where tax-free shopping is still available.  Others will still visit Britain but are likely to spend less time and less money here.

The 16 million non-EU visitors visiting the UK spend around £3 billion on tax-free shopping and a further £14.8 billion on non-tax-free shopping, restaurants, hotels and many other goods and services.

If tax-free shopping ends and many of these visitors divert to Paris or Milan, as all the opinion polling suggest they will, London will become less attractive for brands and investors who want to be where their major customers are.

Coming on top of the damage done to the West End by the COVID-19 pandemic, this decision to make Britain the only European country not to offer tax-free shopping will be a further blow to our district.  It will deter visitors, investors and businesses, so making the West End a poorer place in many different ways.  Fewer attractions, fewer visitors and less spending will undermine our recovery and growth.

That’s why, on behalf of all our tenants, Shaftesbury has been involved in the campaign, working with New West End Company, the Association of International Retail, the British Retail Consortium and Walpole on a political and media programme which we hope will result in the tax-free shopping scheme to be retained and extended to EU visitors.