U.S. tourists flock to luxury shops in Europe
STORY: American luxury shoppers travelling in Europe feel as if they’ve hit the jackpot.
For the first time in twenty years, the euro and U.S. dollar are nearly equal in value.
The weak euro is tempting Americans like Shawna Wilson to splurge.
TOURIST FROM COLORADO AND MOM, SHAWNA WILSON, 49, SAYING:
"Because the euro and the dollar are about the same, it definitely encourages us to spend. It's like it's on sale here, so we're having no problem shopping."
Wilson is among many American tourists flocking to Paris’s Avenue Montaigne this week, a strip of luxury stores which fronts designer brands such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Gucci.
TOURIST FROM NEW YORK CITY AND RETIRED TEACHER, SUSAN WEINBERG, SAYING:
"I am very excited that our American dollar is so strong, just when I am coming to Europe.”
For Americans, purchasing a Chanel bag here could be cheaper by a thousand bucks, with savings from the exchange rate and tax refunds at the border on the way home.
But Erik Norland, senior economist at the CME Group in London, warns it’s not as simple as it seems.
CME GROUP, SENIOR ECONOMIST, ERIK NORLAND, SAYING:
"My own personal observation with luxury brands is that the prices of those goods tends not to vary from one country to another as much as you might expect. Another thing for Americans to consider, if they're expecting bargains in Europe, is that in Europe in general there is much higher value added taxes there are in the U.S. Now that said, Americans who do shop over here can often get value added tax rebates when they leave. So that's also something to look into as there might be a lot of calculations to make in terms of trying to find bargains. And it may not be as straightforward as people think."
On the flip side, European luxury shoppers like Sebastien Pozzi from Lyon, France, will feel a pinch at home - and while traveling to the U.S.
TOURIST FROM LYON, FRANCE, SEBASTIEN POZZI, SAYING:
"Maybe we won't buy anything. In France, it's really expensive, that kind of brands, like Chanel, Dior. And here today... normally it could be cheaper in the U.S., but with the exchange rate, it's not possible. It's too expensive for us."
Some analysts say the parity could last for at least a couple of weeks.