It has been a very tough year for London – not only has it been rated as having the worst hotels in Europe, it also lost its spot as one of the most expensive (and profitable) in Europe.
Of course, the people that benefit this most from this are people that don’t live in the UK. Prices in London are so low, that many Europeans are turning to the British Capital for its cheap shopping opportunities. The combination of a weak Pound and ultra cheap airfare is sending 100’s of planeloads of Europeans to London each day.
With plane tickets being sold for as little as $1 (Thanks Ryanair!), it can be cheaper to fly to London, than to load up the car and drive to many traditional shopping destinations. The Dutch used to drive to German Christmas markets to do some shopping, but now many of them head to the nearest airport and spend the day walking up and down Oxford Street.
Five years ago, one Pound would cost about one and a half Euros – at the current exchange rate, they are almost on parity with each other. Combine this with stores offering steep discounts, and you have a country that has become one big outlet mall. Items that cost EUR1500 in Europe, are selling for GBP450.
Here at gadling, we are quick to bash the megalomanic American exports ranging from Starbucks and hamburgers to bad movies. It is not that we don’t want American companies to succeed abroad. You just don’t want to see home-grown fast-food chains when traveling to Southeast Asia.
I can’t help but cringe when I analyze some of the crap America exports. Even worse, that others think America IS that crap.
Take Playboy, for example. Their new store–largest in the world–just opened right in the heart of London, on Oxford Street. If you are like me and have no idea that there is such a thing as a Playboy store, you must wonder: do they sell those heavily airbrushed, half-plastic, no-way-they-could-survive-in-the-age-of-HDTV women? They don’t. It is worse than that.
They sell what they call luxury goods: clothes (apparently competing with Diesel), cosmetics and branded knick-knacks to anyone who thinks buying a hat with the bunny head logo on it is living dangerously. The Playboy store doesn’t even display the magazine or any sex toys. What? We complain about Starbucks taking over the world one caffeinated step at a time but at least they actually sell coffee, not pictures of coffee.