It has brought misery to millions and warnings that Britain has entered a calamitous tailspin towards a future of recession, isolation and international irrelevance. But in China, consumers have lauded Britain’s decision to quit the EU, taking advantage of the plummeting pound to go on post-Brexit spending sprees for Hermes handbags and Hugo Boss scarfs.
“My first thought [after Brexit] was that the Harrods Summer Sale kicks off tomorrow,” one gleeful Chinese ‘leaver’ wrote on Weibo, China’s Twitter. “This means discount after discount!”
Chinese newspapers have filled with celebratory column inches in the wake of the 23 June referendum, even as the country’s political leaders mourn the potential loss of their most vocal European cheerleader. In an article headlined “Pound’s depreciation sparks shopping fever”, the Wuhan Morning Post told its readers to look on the bright side of Brexit.
“Britain’s exit has caused a devaluation in the pound which means that the same amount of yuan allows you to buy more,” it explained. “A classic Burberry trench coat, for example would have cost you 13,757 yuan before. But on the day of Brexit you could find one for just 12,203 yuan.”
She told Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post that one of her first acts after the vote had been to make her way to the Burberry website where coat prices had 9% slumped about to the equivalent of about £995.
“The Brexit is good news for me,” she said.
Yu Yiran, another happy Chinese shopper, told the Communist party-run Global Times tabloid she was elated by the result.
“I am going to buy a Louis Vuitton handbag as soon as possible in case the exchange rate changes again,” the 25-year-old was quoted as saying.
Chinese tourists, more than 200,000 of whom visited Britain last year, have also been buoyed by the result of the referendum which caused the pound to fall to its lowest levels in more than thirty years.
On the eve of the referendum one pound was worth about 9.65 Chinese yuan, according to the online currency converter XE.com. On Monday its value had fallen to just 8.84 yuan. Ctrip, China’s leading online travel agency, said there had been a 200% spike in searches for British holidays on its booking app, according to a report in the China Youth Daily newspaper. Overseas students also described the collapse of the pound as a boon.
Qu Xinyi, a 22-year-old student, who will start a masters degree in journalism at Cardiff University in September said Brexit had helped shave about 20,000 yuan off her tuition fees. UK-bound Chinese students had watched with delight as the referendum results came in and the pound fell through the floor, Qu told the Global Times.
“Many of them were cheering as they watched the pound drop.”