Spring Budget: “Missed opportunity” for tax-free shopping reintroduction

15th March 2023 | Jack Oliver

The Chancellor has missed an opportunity to reintroduce tax-free shopping for international visitors, the chief executive of the Marble Arch Business Improvement District has said.

Kay Buxton said the reintroduction of the scheme, which would allow visitors to the UK to claim back on VAT for their purchases, would have provided a much-needed boost to the economy.

According to research from the Association of International Retail, shopping accounts for 46% of all tourist spending, and the reintroduction of tax-free shopping would lead to an extra £2.1bn spent on shopping by overseas visitors every year, with a further £1bn spent on hotels, restaurants, and visitor attractions.

“It is frustrating that the Chancellor has again ignored widespread calls to reintroduce tax-free shopping for international visitors”, Buxton said, referencing calls made by herself and others prior to November’s Autumn Statement calling for the reintroduction of the scheme.

“The removal of tax-free shopping has damaged the international appeal of the UK for visitors, so this is another missed opportunity by the Chancellor”, she concluded.

These sentiments have also been shared by the New West End Company, who said that visitors “might be coming here but they’re not spending money”, due to a lack of tax-free shopping.


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