Brand-savvy shoppers can use their duty free allowance to save hundreds of pounds on Christmas gifts in New York


  • Research reveals savings of up to 62 per cent on Christmas gifts bought in New York compared with London (
  • Savvy shoppers can save 43 per cent on a basket of 10 gifts within the duty free limit
  • Caution advised over British and European brands, which could cost up to 67 per cent more in New York 

As all eyes turn towards the USA in the wake of its presidential election result, new research reveals that UK holidaymakers travelling to New York for a Christmas shopping break can look forward to great savings over London store prices, provided they choose the right brands.The 10th annual Post Office Travel Money Christmas Shopping Guide has found savings of up to 62 per cent on ‘must have’ toys and up to 58 per cent on designer clothes items¹.

Compiled with the help of researchers from Cheapflights, the global flight and travel search website, the Post Office report reveals savings of between 11 and 62 per cent on a wide range of American goods – although it found British and European brands could cost significantly more stateside.

Staying within the £390 duty free allowance on goods bought in the USA, Post Office Travel Money was able to compile a list of 10 ‘must have’ gift items for family members saving a total of 43 per cent on London store prices.

Item New York London %Saving
Hasbro Star Wars Blade Builders Jedi Master Lightsaber £34.48 £89.99 62%
Vans Men’s Authentic Shoes (brown) £19.50 £47.00 59%
Hollister Women’s Jean Leggings (rinse) £16.25 £39.00 58%
Hollister Women’s Floral Print Graphic Fleece £20.31 £45.00 55%
Disney Pixar Finding Dory ‘My Friend Dory’ £26.52 £49.99 47%
Abercrombie & Fitch Men’s Logo Graphic Hoodie £34.12 £64.00 47%
J. Crew Shift Dress in Leopard Skin £56.86 £98.00 42%
Clinique All About Eye Shadow £18.57 £29.50 37%
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant £19.46 £27.00 28%
Ray Ban Wayfarer Sunglasses (alternate fit 58mm) £123.82 £160.00 23%
£369.89 £649.48 43%

With the latest Star Wars instalment Rogue One due out next month, ‘The Force will be with’ Star Wars fans who can get their hands on a Blade Builders Jedi Master Lightsaber as this offers the year’s biggest saving in New York.At £34.48, it costs 62 per cent less than in London (£89.99).Spin-off toys from the latest animated films are also much cheaper in New York.For example, shoppers can shave 47 per cent off the price of Finding Dory’s ‘My Friend Dory’ toy (£26.52 compared with £49.99).

Fashion labels Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch offer bargain hunters some of the best savings as they have done in every Post Office survey over the past decade.Jeans, hoodies and fleeces cost 47-58 per cent less than in their flagship London stores.Vans shoes (saving 59 per cent), J. Crew dresses and shirts (up to 42 per cent cheaper) and Ray Ban sunglasses (23 per cent less) were among other American brands offering big discounts in New York.

Some cosmetics brands are great value in the USA too but, with the falls in sterling over the past 12 months, these are in the minority.Look out for Clinique eye make-up and skincare, priced at up to 37 per cent less than in London, or Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant (£19.46) at a discount of 28 per cent on the London price of £27.

Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money, which accounts for one-in-four of all UK currency transactions,said: “The USA has remained popular with UK tourists throughout 2016, leading to a 13 per cent rise in our dollar sales this year, and the fall in the US dollar’s value in recent days will make the country even better value.

“Our survey of over 150 items makes it clear that there are still some rich pickings for savvy shoppers, which could result in savings of hundreds of pounds spent on Christmas shopping.However, sterling is still 16 per cent weaker than last November so it is now doubly important for UK visitors to do their homework before parting with cash.It will pay dividends to know which brands to choose and which to avoid.”

Alongside the savings identified in the report, sterling’s fall has exposed a big divide in prices for ‘must have’ gift items in this year’s Christmas Shopping Guide.The research found that most of the British and European brands surveyed – including Karen Millen, Ted Baker, All Saints, Diesel, Burberry and Superdry – cost far more in New York than in London².

For example, shoppers could find themselves paying over £300 for a Karen Millen Knot Necklace Broderie Dress in New York that would only cost £180 in London – 67 per cent extra.And a Cropped Top from top fashion brand Ted Baker is priced at around £211 in New York but only £129 in London – a premium of 64 per cent more.

Similarly, while Clinique and Elizabeth Arden offer shoppers savings in New York, some cosmetic brands are more expensive.At £75.18, a 30ml pot of NARS night cream is 25 per cent pricier in New York while a Bobbie Brown mascara will cost 18 per cent more than in London (£24.76 compared with £21). Perfumes can cost more than in London too: a 75ml bottle of Gucci Bamboo costs £70 in London but over £113 in New York – 62 per cent more.

Among the consumer gadgets surveyed, the Post Office and CheapFlights found savings of 11 per cent on an Amazon Fire 7 Tablet (£44.21 in New York compared with £49.95 in London) and of 12 per cent on a JBL Flip 3 Waterproof Portable Speaker (£70.75 in New York against £79.99 in London).However, sterling’s fall over the last few months has wiped out the savings previously available on most electronic items. For example, a FitBit Blaze smart watch bought in New York for £173.31 weighs in at eight per cent – more than in London (£159.99).

Although it remains weaker than a year ago, the more recent rise in the value of sterling in the past couple of days could have a positive impact on the prices UK visitors will pay in New York. Andrew Shelton, Managing Director of Cheapflights said: “Our data shows that interest in New York during November remains strong, with searches for flights there rising 13 per cent on last year. Clearly UK holidaymakers remain hungry for the great value that shopping and holidaying in New York can offer.”

Andrew Brown said: “People planning trips to the USA before Christmas should ensure they get the best US dollar rate before leaving home. Take enough cash to cover shopping and living costs and be aware that transactions of over £500 attract a better rate in our branches or on the Post Office website.A good way to avoid exceeding the £390 duty free allowance is to carry this on our prepaid US dollar Travel Money Card, which can be used just like plastic.”

Over 4,000 larger Post Office branches offer US dollars on demand and they can be ordered online at for same day collection at selected branches, for next day collection at any branch or home delivery. Up to 70 currencies can be pre-ordered at over 11,500 Post Office branches or online at for next day branch or home delivery.

¹ From over 150 items surveyed, Post Office Travel Money and CheapFlights researchers found savings of up to 62 per cent.See attached barometer tables detailing the price comparisons between New York and London that the following 20 items were among the 20 best bargains for UK shoppers in New York:

² In its research, the Post Office found no examples of British brands that were cheaper in New York than in London.See attached barometer tables showing a representative sample of prices for British and European brands that are significantly more expensive in the USA, including US brands of cosmetics, fragrance and consumer electronics.