Weak Pound Brings Visitors to the U.K. on a Spending Spree

  • Overseas visits to the U.K. rose an annual 6% in July
  • Britons opt for summer ‘staycations’ instead of going abroad

The pound’s fall since the Brexit vote may be leading to more staycations and bigger spending from foreign visitors in a boost for the British tourism and retail industries.

British visits to other countries decreased by 2 percent in July compared with last year, according to the Office for National Statistics. It suggests more Britons opted to spend their summer vacations in the U.K. because of the increased expense of going abroad.

By contrast, foreigners are finding it cheaper to come to Britain. They made 6 percent more visits than in July 2016 and spent 2.7 billion pounds ($3.7 billion), an increase of 3 percent.

The figures tally with data this week showing that retail sales rose at their fastest pace in four months in August, despite the squeeze on British households from higher inflation. There was strong demand for watches and jewelry, items popular with foreign buyers.

It remains to be seen whether the exchange rate will continue to court overseas travelers. Speculation the Bank of England is getting ready to raise interest rates has seen sterling surge this month, paring its loss since the Brexit referendum last June to 9 percent.

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