'Meghan effect' gets US shoppers to splash the cash on British brands

Lizzie Edmonds

American tourists coming to London to splash out on British fashion have increased their spending by almost a third in the past 12 months, data shows.

Tax-free shopping figures reveal US visitors spent 30 per cent more on British high streets this March compared with the same time last year.

With an average of £930 per tax-free claim, Americans made seven per cent of all tax-free purchases in the UK.

And the country benefited from 24 per cent of all US tax-free spending globally, the data suggests.

File photo: The Duchess of Sussex attends the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey (AFP/Getty Images)

Clothing and accessories are where American shoppers spend the most. Top British brands such as Burberry, Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood are among the most popular.

Experts believe the Duchess of Sussex, who often champions British brands such as Victoria Beckham, Barbour and Hunter, may have boosted awareness of UK brands in the American market.

The increasing number of cheap flights daily between the US and the UK may have helped, with the weaker pound due to Brexit also encouraging spending. US shoppers are said to be increasingly visiting the UK for its retail offerings as much as its cultural ones.

Derrick Hardman, boss of shopping analysts Global Blue, said one factor making Britain “a particularly desirable location for Americans” is the strength of the dollar to the weaker pound, so US customers’ money goes further when shopping tax-free.

International visitors can apply for a refund of the 20 per cent VAT on goods they have bought in the UK if they are leaving the EU within three months.

Mr Hardman added: “The Meghan effect has also contributed to the growing desire for British brands among US visitors. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex provide the perfect combination of a British royal and a US celebrity.”

Fashion expert Anthony McGrath said: “The Duchess of Sussex is known for supporting high-end designers as well as UK high street brands — from M&S to J Crew — and as one of the newest members of the royal family her sartorial choices have caught the imagination of the Press and public.”