More Indians flying overseas to shop for cheaper luxury goods

UK, France and NY top attractions as big brands offer huge discounts, logistical support. La Vallée Village in France, which is home to brands such as Armani, Jimmy Choo, Givenchy and Versace, has been organising trade events in India and saw vis...

NEW DELHI: More Indians are travelling overseas to shop for luxury goods because its simpler, more convenient and cheaper than buying locally, retailers and marketers said.

Online travel agents said there’s been an over 20% growth this year in travel to destinations that house outlets of designer luxury brands and offer products at heavily discounted rates such as Bicester Village near London, La Vallée Village and Maasmechelen Village in France and Belgium, respectively, and Woodbury, New York.

“The UK has emerged as a preferred destination for luxury watches because of favourable exchange rates and VAT. The VAT refund in the UK is 18%,” said Yasho Saboo, founder of Ethos Watch Boutiques, which sell Ulysse Nardin, Chopard, Longines, Jaeger Le Coultre and Rolex watches in India.

“For expensive watches, you don’t have to furnish identification proof and you can buy them anonymously there. In India, anything costing more than Rs 2 lakh requires PAN card identification. Good brands try to minimise arbitrage but even they can’t help it when it comes to factors like exchange rates,” he added.


According to Pratik Dalmia, chairman of Assocham’s National Council on Luxury and Lifestyle, various international tourism offices have increased promotional activity to attract Indian travellers to shopping destinations and outlet malls overseas.

“There are various initiatives taken like additional discounts, preferential shopping hours and logistical support. The wider availability of current collections and sizing, coupled with competitive pricing, only further make the international shopping experience more attractive,” said Dalmia, who is also founder of Regalia Luxury, which retails watch brand Bovet in India besides Italian menswear label Isaia and British shoemaker John Lobb.

La Vallée Village in France, which is home to brands such as Armani, Jimmy Choo, Givenchy and Versace, has been organising trade events in India and saw visits by Indians increase 40% last year. Bicester Village launched an India pop-up concept store this year, housing creations of Indian designers.

Customisation and exclusive add-ons like a VIP package including limo transfers and personal shopping assistants are also in demand by high net worth and ultra-high net worth customers and companies, travel operators said.

“The combination of luxury brands and great offers and discounts are creating a significant pull factor to allure deal-seeking Indian travellers across price segments. The bragging rights or flaunt value of luxury brands has created added impetus for shopping outlets like Bicester and La Vallée Village. Proximity to key tourist cities and easy access adds to the convenience factor,” said Rajeev Kale, country head – holiday, MICE, visa, at Thomas Cook (India).

Daniel D’Souza, country head, leisure, at SOTC Travel, said his company is receiving substantial number of queries from travellers who want to combine shopping with their current travel itinerary.

“Winter sales like Black Friday in the US and Boxing Day in London are popular shopping events. Also, with the wedding and festive season approaching, we see a demand to visit specific shopping destinations. We offer especially designed shopping tours to Woodbury in New York, Serravalle in Italy, Bicester Village and Maasmechelen Village, among others,” he added.




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