Online expat shoppers bingeing on bargains due to sterling slump

Published:  30 Aug at 6 PM
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The recent devaluation of sterling has proved a bonanza for expats, with online UK shopping sites seeing a huge increase in turnover.

Following the rush from overseas for UK properties since sterling fell dramatically on the news that the Brexit referendum’s Leave campaign had won, online British sales websites have seen a similar rush to buy. The plunging pound has brought unprecedented demand from overseas buyers for all kinds of UK goods from clothing to favourite foodstuffs.

One online favourite, Waitrose, now offering its ‘tastes of home’ through the British Corner Shop website, is expected to benefit strongly from the fall in the pound. More than 2,000 long-time British brands are on offer, and the site serves up to 138 countries worldwide. According to Waitrose MD Mark Callaghan, household products, biscuits and the firm’s Duchy Organic brand are best-sellers at the present moment.

Fashion retailers online are also benefiting from the pound’s decrease in value against the dollar and euro, with one website crashing due to excessive demand. The official reason behind the unavailability of the ASOS webpage was a power outage rather than unusually high demand, but rumours in the trade suggest the devaluation had resulted in uncomfortably tight margins between ASOS’s cost and sales prices.

Since June 24, the pound has dropped from around $1.37 to $1.29 against the US dollar, its lowest point for some 30 years. Against the euro, sterling now stands at 1.16 from a previous high of 1.30, making British favourites far cheaper for expats. The continuing uncertainty over Brexit’s financial and economic effects is expected to ensure the run on sterling continues for the foreseeable future.

The Bank of England’s governor Mark Carney recently announced a £150 billion fillip to enable banks to lend to private clients and businesses with financial woes, whilst three major property funds holding around £12 billion have now suspended redemptions due to fears of a commercial property price collapse. Traders in the foreign exchange market are expecting sterling to fall further to a low of $1.27 by the end of the year, giving expats the perfect excuse for even more retail therapy.
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