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Vancouver luxury shopping now comparable to London may be one of our best-kept retail secret this year. As a recent price assessment comparing Burberry’s London and Vancouver boutiques shows, Canadian shoppers now have a price parity they’ve never experienced before. A result of the Bank of Canada’s 25% devaluation of the Canadian dollar, shopping here at home is now comparable, in terms of prices, with London’s luxury retail mecca.
As a consequence of the BREXIT vote that devalued the British pound by about 10 percent against the euro, London has become the world’s cheapest luxury market. British luxury brands Burberry, Jimmy Choo and Mulberry are all discretely jubilant about their lower price position against other European designer retailers. A closer look at the numbers, however, shows that Vancouver luxury shopping doesn’t lag too far behind London when it comes to bargains on luxury goods.
Vancouver luxury shoppers benefit from lower currency
Visit Burberry’s flagship store on Regent Street in central London and you will find their classic trench coat retails for £1,495 or about C$2575 at current exchange rates. In China, that same coat runs for 25% more at 17,5000 renminbi or about C$3465. In Downtown Vancouver, you can purchase the same coat for C$2682 including taxes. That’s a difference of only 4% or C$107.
Historically, European luxury goods have been the least expensive in their home countries. This supports domestic markets and attracts tourist dollars. For customers in countries such as Canada and China, prices for such goods have typically been higher. Vancouver prices are bucking this historic trend, creating an enticing shopping atmosphere for both Vancouverites and visitors.
Today, tourist spending accounts for more than 50% of worldwide luxury retail sales which represents a significantly important part of the tourism industries of major travel destinations such as London, New York, Paris and now Vancouver which is becoming an important shopping destination, particularly for members of China’s growing wealthy class.
Bargain capital of luxury shopping
My experience as a luxury fashion buyer in travel retail has shown that, in contrast with North American travellers who tend to seek out fine cuisine, the number one reason Chinese women travel is to shop. The major reasons Chinese women do not purchase luxury goods at home are the profusion of counterfeit luxury goods and high domestic duties and taxes. In China, shopping abroad carries a certain cachet among the rising elite so it’s not an uncommon sight to see Chinese tourists, upon arrival at airport, hire private cars to take them directly to Vancouver’s luxury corner at Alberni and Thurlow.
The devaluation of Canada’s currency has affected the prices at all of Vancouver luxury shopping boutiques including Saint Laurent, Prada, Moncler, Brunello Cucinelli and Versace, satisfying both locals and visitors with a taste for luxury shopping.
As a low Canadian currency appears to be the new economic norm, it is safe to say that Vancouver is now the bargain capital of luxury shopping. However, if the Canadian dollar drops any further, high-end retailers may be forced to raise prices so I wouldn’t wait too long to take advantage of our best kept secret.