NEW YORK — Foreign tourists are currently looking to spend on luxury brands while shopping in New York City, due to the US dollar’s weak value compared to many other currencies.
The US dollar (USD) is currently near multi-year lows compared to several other currencies, according to recent currency exchange data gathered from Yahoo! Finance. For example, one Australian dollar (AUD) is presently valued at 1.04 USD. By comparison, in 2001 the AUD was only valued at 50 cents. Since that time, it has more than doubled to be presently worth more than the USD.
The current strength of the AUD (versus that of the USD) means that shopping in the US is relatively inexpensive for Australian tourists. The same can be said for tourists from Canada, Switzerland, Japan and many other Asian countries.
At the world-renowned department store, Bloomingdale’s, approximately 70% of shoppers are tourists, said Cory Grosklos, men’s shop manager at Bloomingdale’s Soho location.
Grosklos thinks that one reason why so many tourists flock to the store is because luxury brands can be found for more reasonable prices. “They are like, ‘oh this is so much cheaper’, especially [for people from] Australia, because everything is expensive over there,” said Grosklos last Tuesday.
Newlyweds Hai and Zora Zhao, are in New York City on their honeymoon from Canberra, Australia. Zora Zhao and her husband came to Bloomindale’s to shop specifically for luxury brands and cosmetic products. “I am looking for some brands that I always want to get, but Australian prices are so high. High-end brands like Chanel and a lot of beauty products like Giorgio Armani, are much more expensive in Australia,” said Zhao.
Toni Warden, from London, England, is in Manhattan visiting her son. Warden also thinks it is a bargain to shop in the US. “We came yesterday and we were told to come here, to Bloomingdale’s. Make-up is a lot cheaper,” said Warden.
Lori Block, manager at the Lucky Brand store in Soho, believes that the large number of tourists spending in her store is a direct result of the higher value of other countries’ currencies. Currently, Block receives many shoppers from Latin America, Australia and Asia.
Lucky Brand, known for their designer denim, also sells a variety of other apparel geared toward both men and women. Block said that 50% of Lucky’s revenue in Soho comes from tourists, who are never caught browsing the sales racks. “They usually shop full-price because they can afford it. We are a denim company, but they are not necessarily coming in for that. They are looking for new collections usually,” said Block.
Adrian Smith, manager at Sunglass Hut in Soho, which carries a wide collection of high-end sunglasses, ranging from Chanel to Gucci, has a clientele made up of 70% tourists. “All we really get is tourists, people from all over the world – Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the United Kingdom, Australia,” said Smith.
These out-of-towners come to Sunglass Hut for a good deal on designer sunglasses. “They come here to bargain shop, especially Brazilians. We get a lot of Brazilian shoppers and they buy in bulk, all of the high-end, top-shelf brands,” said Smith.
However, good prices are not the only reason why tourists find shopping in New York City so alluring. “New York is a shopping city, so if you are downtown, you are going to come to Soho. You have every single label possible within three blocks,” said Grosklos.