The Best Cities for Some Last-minute Christmas Shopping

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CHRISTMAS in New York is a time when, in the words of Meyer Berger, the city tries “to match the gems from her endless treasure chest against the winking and sparking brilliants in Heaven’s vault”.  Only grinches fail to succumb to the seasonal spirit when the snow is falling in Manhattan, the steam is rising from the pavements and the lights twinkle. For many, though, Christmas means one thing: the chance to shop.  New York may be magical, but is it the best place to stock up on gifts? Gulliver decided to compare the Big Apple with other shopping draws around the world.

To be a good place to shop, a city first needs a wide selection of things to buy.  We used a ranking by CB Richard Ellis, a real-estate firm, to assess the penetration of global retailers in cities around the world.  Second, it must not break the bank.  So we applied cost-of-living data from The Economist Intelligence Unit, our sister company, both on the average cost of a night’s stay and the price of the sort of items Christmas shoppers might covet, such as booze, clothes and perfume.  To decide whether a city offers value for money we compared it to—where else—New York.

The results will surprise some, though perhaps not regular globetrotters.  Visitors to America will have noticed that value for money is now hard to find given the strengthening dollar.  In fact only a shopping trip in Singapore is more expensive than New York based on our sample. And although the penetration of international retailers in New York is high, it is still below those of other shopping hubs like London and Dubai.  This explains why it sits in the bottom five of the 20 cities we ranked.

Dubai comes top by virtue of having both a surfeit of shops and relatively cheap prices.  But bargain hunters may prefer a Christmas trip to Johannesburg or Bangkok where there is less to buy but the bargains are plentiful.  Still, none of these particularly bring Christmas to mind. So Gulliver recommends a trip to London, rated fourth, which manages to combine a festive feel with a mammonic love of shopping—all, thanks to the weak pound, at a reasonable price.

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Source: Economist

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