UK Travellers Avid Shoppers

Almost 90 per cent of UK travellers shop during a visit to the US, according to a new survey by Taubman Centers, a leading US shopping centre developer, and the US Department of Commerce. The study compares and contrasts shoppers and cultural shoppers visiting the US in 2003 versus 1997 and examines market size, trip planning, travel characteristic, travel behaviour and expenditures.

The findings show that the UK represented 22 percent of total overseas visitors to the US in 2003. It also generated more shoppers, 3.5m, to the US than any other market. That’s a 6 per cent increase in total travel and a 7 percent increase in shopper travel over 1997. The UK market and Mexico were the only countries to generate more shoppers to the United States in 2003 than in 1997.

The UK also led all other countries in producing the most “cultural shoppers” to the United States – those who not only shop, but who also participate in a cultural or ethnic heritage activity. The 1.3m in 2003 is more than double the number from runner-up Germany and far outdistances other top markets: Japan, France, Mexico, and the Republic of Korea.

The study also distinguishes between British shoppers, cultural shoppers and general travellers from the UK. The average planning time (104 days) for British travellers to the US is shorter than for shoppers who tend to make their trip decisions and book their reservations earlier than the cultural shoppers from Britain. The planning time in 2003 was about five days less than what is was in 1997. The percentage of shoppers who state they are on a leisure/holiday trip is higher, and the cultural shopper has the highest share of leisure/holiday trips as a purpose of trip.

Of the 25 activities tracked, shopping won. In 2003, 15.6m overseas visitors to the US shopped while they were in the country, spending US$5.8bn on gifts and souvenirs. That’s an average of $347 per person, per trip. Cultural shoppers spent over $1.8bn on gifts and souvenirs. The top spenders were the UK, Japan, Germany, Republic of Korea and Mexico shoppers.

Florida was the favourite state for British travellers and British shoppers in 2003. But those travellers interested in combining shopping with cultural tourism picked New York as their top destination.

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