Expedia names world’s 25 top shopping destinations

Expedia, a US-based on-line travel company, has compiled a list of the world’s top 25 travel destinations for shopping.

With this festive period being the busiest time of the year for the world’s retailers, the company has based its league table on data that includes blogger recommendations, visitor numbers, value for money and friendliness.

London achieved fourth place for the UK, trailing behind New York in first place, Berlin that took second and Los Angeles in third. None of these will come as a great surprise, but other shopping destinations on the list were less predictable.

Examples of these include Sao Paulo in Brazil, Seoul in South Korea, Melbourne in Australia and Romania’s capital Bucharest that just made the list at number 25. Scotland also had a showing, with Edinburgh taking twentieth spot. Dubai with its glitzy, top end shops for the well-off came fourteenth, while Marrakech’s more affordable markets and souks earned it nineteenth place. Africa’s other representative on the list was Cape Town, achieving twenty-third place. The USA had one other representative in addition to its two in the top four, with San Francisco in thirteenth place.

The complete list reads, 1, New York, 2, Berlin, 3, Los Angeles, 4, London, 5, Kuala Lumpur, 6, Tokyo, 7, Singapore, 8, Istanbul, 9, Paris, 10, Madrid, 11, Sao Paulo, 12, Bangkok, 13, San Francisco, 14, Dubai, 15, Milan, 16, Rome, 17, Hong Kong, 18, Seoul, 19, Marrakech, 20, Edinburgh, 21, Melbourne, 22, Vienna, 23, Cape Town, 24, Amsterdam and 25, Bucharest.

Heathrow opens world first Personal Shopping lounge, reveals UK shopping bugbears

Heathrow, the UK’s hub airport, has announced the opening of the world’s first Personal Shopping Lounge in an airport.

On the occasion, Heathrow also revealed the findings of fresh research on the nation’s shopping bugbears – and maps the evolution of the new social media shopper.

The survey confirmed that the number of visitors to city high-streets has been declining in recent years. The most hated high-street grievances include crowded stores (70 per cent), items being out of stock (51 per cent), constant queuing (42 per cent) and messy piles of clothes (37 per cent).

Heathrow’s new study found that clothing shoppers today value social media as one of their most frequently used sources of fashion inspiration – turning to Facebook (54 per cent) and Twitter (24 per cent) for style tips rather than Pinterest (22 per cent), Instagram (20 per cent) or YouTube (19 per cent). Passengers spent £1.8bn per year on perfumes, clothing, scarves, sunglasses, jewellery, watches, bags and small leather goods from over 140 brands, it found.

Following the research findings and investigating both on- and offline trends, Heathrow introduced the world’s first personal shopping lounge in an airport, which is available for all passengers flying through Heathrow, irrespective of their class of travel.

Max Vialou-Clark, Retail Director at Heathrow said, ‘Our shopping habits are evolving, we’re now looking for that quick fashion fix more often, more socially connected and with a more bespoke or personal feel. As a result of these trends, we’ve launched our Personal Shopping Lounge for the 73 million passengers a year that pass through our doors. Now everyone can enjoy VIP treatment, whether you’re a business traveller on the go or are just hunting for that perfect gift.’

With a team on hand speaking a combined 38 languages, Heathrow’s international personal shopping team presents a selection of products from over 400 outlets. Customers booking an appointment in advance can enjoy personal appointments with an accredited stylist in Heathrow’s dedicated suite, free of charge.

Britain ranked top European shopping destination

Britain has been voted the best place in Europe to visit for shopping, according to a report by YouGov.

The report is based on YouGov’s latest EuroTrack survey, which tracks public opinion in the UK, Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway. The findings come after official figures showed that economic growth in Britain has doubled since the start of the year, and a report by YouGov and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) found that consumer confidence in Britain is at its highest level since early 2010.

Commenting on the results of the EuroTrack survey, YouGov director of Political and Social Research, Joe Twyman, said: ‘The fact that Europeans see the UK as the best place to visit for shopping could be another small bit of good economic news this week, which no doubt most Britons feel is long overdue. It also shows that Britain has a distinguishing factor advantage as a holiday destination, whereas Italy, France and Spain dominate in most other categories.’

The report said that when asked to choose up to three European countries, on average a third, or 32 percent of respondents, said that the UK was the best place in Europe to visit for shopping, followed by Italy at 20 percent and France at 20 percent. France, Italy and Spain are reportedly the top choices for holidaymakers.

When asked about the best places in Europe to visit for good weather, Spain was ranked best at 56 percent, followed by Greece at 44 percent and Italy at 32 percent. Italy tops the list for food, at 48 percent, followed by France at 45 percent and Spain at 26 percent. For ‘good fun, socialising and parties’, Spain is the preferred choice at 41 percent, followed by Greece at 18 percent and Italy at 16 percent.

According to the EuroTrack survey, 36 percent have voted Italy as the best place in Europe for sightseeing, with France at 33 percent and the UK in third place at 25 percent. Asked about the best place in Europe to visit to learn a new language, 35 percent of respondents chose Spain as their first choice, followed by the UK at 28 percent and France at 27 percent.

Women’s clothes shopping adds 33 percent to cost of holiday

A new survey has revealed that shopping for clothes in readiness for an upcoming holiday adds an average of 33 percent to the holiday cost for women in the UK.

The survey, which was carried out by travel agency company sunshine.co.uk, revealed that on average a woman spends £245 on clothing, accessories and toiletries when preparing to go on holiday. This compares with an average amount spent on flights and accommodation of £710, and signifies a sizeable addition to the overall cost of the trip.

The pre-holiday shopping spree typically includes four items of swimwear, six summer dresses, five tops or vests, three pairs of sandals or other shoes, two pairs of shorts, three items of holiday jewellery; sunglasses, a beach bag, sun lotion and additional makeup. The prime reason that 21 percent of female respondents to the survey gave for their urge to spend on the new wardrobe was their determination not to be seen wearing the same items of clothing when photographed for the coming holiday as they were when photographed for the previous holiday. This was also the reason why a third of respondents said that they bought some new items of clothing every time that they went on holiday.

Chris Clarkson, co-founder of the Sunshine website, was quoted in the Daily Mail, saying, ‘I think it’s easy to forget about other costs involved in going on holiday on top of the flight and accommodation. My advice would be for people to really take a look at the clothes and accessories they already have, because there’s no need to buy new items each time.’

Britain a must for international shoppers

Serious shoppers from all over the world see the UK as a purveying paradise according to the results of a recent survey.

The study carried out by VisitBritain, the UK’s tourism authority, has produced figures that prove just how important foreign shoppers are to the nation’s economy. The tourism agency reported that around 18 million foreign visitors spent GBP4.5 billion in the UK’s retail outlets last year. That equates to around a quarter of foreign tourists total spend in the UK finding its way into High Street tills.

The analysis of what the money was spent on was perhaps predictable; with more than half of the total spend, GBP2.3 billion, lavished on clothes. Gifts, souvenirs and household goods also featured heavily on buying lists, and accounted for GBP1.6 billion of the spend. However, shopping-oriented tourists only spend around GBP100 more per visit to the UK on average, than their ‘standard tourist’ counterpart, GBP680 compared to GBP580.

Although London benefits massively from tourist shopping, with 81 percent of visitors to the capital choosing to shop, nearly 75 percent of holiday visitors also shopped at other destinations across the UK.

The 18 million shopping tourists were comprised predominantly of 2 million from France, 1.63 million Germans, 1.63 million Americans, 1.3 million Irish and 1.1 million Spanish. However, the number of shoppers arriving from developing countries is also on the increase, especially from Brazil, Russia, and China.

The chief executive at VisitBritain, Sandie Dawe, commented, ‘Shopping in Britain is seen around the world as a positive and welcoming experience, and one of the things VisitBritain promotes to encourage visitors. Our shopping experience is world class, with high quality, desirable British brands enticing international visitors at all times of the year and providing real value for money against our competitors.’


New London Heathrow Shopping Experiences for Christmas

London Heathrow Airport has launched two new shopping services for Christmas.

The offers include an online shopping experience, named ‘Heathrow Boutique’, for passengers to browse and book purchases before they arrive at the airport, currently live at www.heathrow.com/boutique. The other shopping experience on offer is a home delivery, named ‘Heathrow delivered’ for passengers who would like to have their purchases delivered complimentary to any UK mainland residential address.

A recent study has revealed that around 41% of passengers at London Heathrow airport travel through the airport to visit friends and families during Christmas, and hence, the airport is often a place where they shop.

Nick Adderley, the marketing and insight director at Heathrow airport, said, ‘December is a special time at the airport – more than any other time of the year, Christmas is the time Heathrow brings people together. We have done a lot of work to make every journey better for our passengers, ensuring that the spirit of Christmas touches our airport with surprises and treats for everyone.’

Other holiday activities and services offered by the airport to passengers during the Christmas period are family lanes in security; ‘Kids eat free’ offers; and carol singers and chocolate treat giveaways for children.

London Heathrow airport has reported higher retail sales compared to any airport worldwide, very much ahead of Incheon Airport in South Korea, which ranks second.

Gross retail sales at Heathrow in 2011 stood at around £1.7bn, compared to £1.5bn reported in 2010; while net retail income per passenger increased by 5.3% in 2011, to £4.35, from £4.13 in 2010.

British Travellers Spend As Much on Holiday Shopping as Holiday Travel

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), a UK-based association of travel agents, has announced that British travellers spend as much money on getting their kit ready in preparation to travel, as they spend on the travel itself.

New research has highlighted that UK holidaymakers spend an average of £532 per person on holiday products and services, even before they begin travelling.

Around GBP1.8 billion is spent by UK residents every year, before they embark on their travels, while a total £31.2 billion is spent in the UK each year on foreign holiday planning and preparation, and £31.6 billion is spent each year on travel itself.

Around £759 million is spent each year on buying cameras and electrical goods, £543 million on magazines and books for entertainment, around £529 million on essential suntan lotions and toiletries, and more than £300m on sunglasses and accessories.

Victoria Bacon, the head of communications at ABTA, said, ‘Part of the excitement of going away on holiday is about the preparation. For many holidaymakers, splashing out some of their budget on a new summer wardrobe, buying a few new books and magazines and getting their duty free at the airport are all part of the experience.

Add to this all of the jobs that are supported in travel agents, at airports and in shops and it is clear that the outbound travel sector makes a very important contribution to the UK economy. This demonstrates conclusively that going abroad on holiday is good for British business.’

A Decade of Deutschland

Everyone is duly celebrating the return of the German Market, in Birmingham’s Victoria square. Also known as the ‘Frankfurt Christmas Market’, this immensely popular festival is now celebrating its tenth year, making its mark as Birmingham’s centrepiece, in its Christmas calendar events.

This market draws families, students, couples and friends with its rows of varied stalls selling antique timeworn jewellery, handcrafted monuments, homemade toys, beautiful Christmas decorations and vintage garments.

Revitalising treasured, traditional figurines such as the beloved Nut-Cracker are now on display to attract a new generations attention. The picturesque setting, complete with a carousel and traditional bandstand’s but the main attraction of course is the food.

German sausages, mulled wine, crepes, pretzels, gingerbread and marzipan sweets are just some of the treats on offer for shoppers to purchase. This is a unique cultural experience Birmingham offers, providing exclusivity and weighted diversity in the second city.This distinctive market unites businesses, community groups and schools, fusing people from all social classes together. This is a refreshing splash of culture for people to swim in, drinking in the carol singers, biblical scenes and if lucky enough, the blanket of white snow.


The German market is a cultural, colourful Christmassy combination of arts provided by Birmingham’s creative community, providing a sense of belonging and excitement. The bright-lights and twinkling décor provide the aesthetically story-book type setting for people to meander through throughout the night.
Annual visitors, first time tourists, school children and festival performers all contribute to giving this unique and distinctive market, running all the way up until Christmas Eve. The Frankfurt market is an uplifting financial and economically acclaimed event and a breath of fresh air in tough times.

Traditional log cabins line the strip of German stalls ranging from oak beer stalls selling china wellington boots of hot apple wine, to the compact huts selling wrought iron figurines. The hustle and bustle of the crowds generates a friendly and earnest congregation of shoppers to swarm each stand, enjoying the delights of home-made bread and woollen garments.


Pearly grey steam spirals up from steaming hot mugs of mulled wine as the clink of beer glasses as big as water-jugs, ring round the streets as the clouds of froth splatter onto the cobbles. Children clutch sweet doughy bricks of waffles, earnestly licking off the sweet hot chocolate sauce that dribbles all over their fingers.  An excited buzz stings the air as each night the culture hungry assembly of people attend the market, appreciating the German freights.Rare souvenirs and glittery tree decorations twinkling in their masses compel you to stop and gawp. Inky blue and gold wreaths of tinsel are dotted with ruby red sparkling ball balls which boarder the procession of German delights.


The treasures sold in masses leave waves of satisfied shoppers to trudge home, bypassing the mainstream conventional purchases of Debenhams and Next. The attempted pronunciation of German words echo through the air as shoppers bypass various stalls; stimulating a ripple of giggles from gaggles of female students, each taking it in turn to say ‘kartoffen’.Greedy eyes fixate on the rows and rows of chocolates that smugly sit behind their glass cases under the warm glow of the lamp lights. White, milk, dark cubes are drizzled with caramel and fudge sauces, speckled with nuts, sugar and fruit specs.
The throng of shoppers personify that Christmas feel, wrapped up in furs, knitted hats, leather gloves and heavy coats, linking arms, willingly losing themselves in the crush of German stalls. Couples aimlessly wander around this fairy-book setting, captivated by that almost time-warp feel emulated, in the core of Bullring’s shopping hub.
This market is in the heart of Birmingham, a must see for anyone seeking a different type of ‘night out’. The ultimate shopping, dining and drinking experience for those who have rinsed Bullrings hoards of stores, had one to many Nandoes and are tired of your typical pint of Fosters.

Article by Emma Boyle