Are designer bags cheaper in Europe? Is it worth travelling for a luxury bag?
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With prices for designer bags on the rise, it’s natural to look for ways to save money on your next purchase. One of the best ways to save money on your next purchase is to buy your bag in Europe.
Check out the rest of this article to find out why bags are cheaper in Europe, which brands are more affordable, and how much you can save.
Are Designer Bags Cheaper in Europe?
The shortest answer to this question is a definite yes. Luxury brands (especially French and Italian brands) offer cheaper pricing in Europe than in the United States. That said, American and British brands aren’t usually cheaper in Europe.
See the next sections to find out why designer bags are cheaper in Europe and which brands you can expect to have lower prices.
Why Are Designer Bags Cheaper in Europe?
There are two main reasons why designer bags are cheaper in Europe as compared to the United States: price discrepancies and tax refunds.
1. Price discrepancies from country to country
While it’s true that luxury brands do what they can to keep prices similar around the world, it’s often the case that products are cheaper in certain countries. In most cases, the lowest prices can be found in the country or region where the brand is from.
This can be explained by taxes and transportation. When an item is shipped for sale overseas, it incurs import taxes and transportation costs. These extra costs are passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices.
It stands to reason that as long as a designer bag stays in Europe, the products are subject to lower taxes and transportation costs. That means luxury brands can sell their products at a lower price within Europe.
2. VAT Refunds
Another major reason designer bags are cheaper in Europe is because of VAT refunds. VAT stands for “Value Added Tax” and refers to a consumption tax levied on goods and services purchased in Europe.
Unlike in the United States where the extra amount is charged at checkout, VAT is already included in the market price of items in Europe.
European countries allow non-EU travelers to claim a VAT refund on products over a certain amount. In the end, this results in a less expensive product overall.
The exact percentage you’ll get back differs between European countries but can be anywhere from 7 to 25 percent.
It’s worth noting that in addition to having different VAT percentages, countries also have their own rules about eligible purchases.
Which Designer Bags Are Cheaper in Europe?
As mentioned above, many designer bags are cheaper in Europe, but not all. Knowing the difference will help you avoid unexpected surprises.
A good rule of thumb is that if a brand has its headquarters in Europe, there’s a good chance the products will be cheaper in Europe than abroad.
Following that logic, bags from brands like French brands like Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Chanel, and Dior will all be cheaper in Europe. The same holds true for Italian brands like Gucci, Versace, and Prada.
That said, prices are the same throughout Europe, so shopping in France or Italy won’t save you any more money than shopping in another European country.
Another point worth mentioning is that American and British brands aren’t cheaper in Europe. Because they’re manufactured abroad, these products are subject to transportation fees and import taxes that end up negating any savings from VAT refunds.
How Much Cheaper Are Designer Brands in Europe?
There isn’t a hard and fast answer to this question. Rather, the amount you’ll save will depend on the brand, the cost of the item, and where you live in the United States (different states have different sales tax rates which affect the final cost).
Still, it’s helpful to look at a few examples to see how big the savings are between Europe and the United States.
Is Louis Vuitton cheaper in Europe?
Louis Vuitton’s popular Neverfull Tote shows the price discrepancy well. This bag is about 40% cheaper in Europe than in the United States. See the table below for a breakdown of the prices:
|Bag Style||2022-2023 US Bag Price||2022-2023 Europe Bag Price|
Keep in mind that the US prices do not reflect sales tax, meaning the bag could cost an additional 3 to 7.25 percent more.
But that’s not it. Remember the VAT refund? In most European countries, you can recuperate 10 percent or more of the purchase price when you leave the country.
That means the Neverfull MM actually comes out to €1,350 (about $1,433), or about $597 cheaper than in the US.
Is Celine Cheaper in Europe?
Another example is Celine – a French Brand with its headquarters in Paris.
For Celine, in average, the prices are around 24% cheaper in Europe / Paris. That is just the retail price of the bags, not taking into account the VAT refund. For a full overview of Celine’s price differences between USD and EUR check out this article.
|Celine Bag Model||Price in USD2022||Price in EUR2022||Price Difference USD||Price Difference %|
|Celine Box Teen Calfskin||3400||2800||600||21.43%|
|Celine Box Medium Calfskin||3950||3300||650||19.70%|
|Cabas Phantom Small||1950||1500||450||30.00%|
|Cabas Phantom Medium||2150||1600||550||34.38%|
Is HermèsCheaper in Europe?
|Item Name||Leather & Type||Price (USD)||Price (EUR)||Price (Other)|
|Evelyne III TPM||Clemence*||$1,800||€1,330||£1,370 GBP|
|Evelyne III PM||Clemence||$3,475||€2,490|
Another French brand, Hermes – is also cheaper in Europe. You can save from $500 – $3000 USD for different H bags if you buy them from Europe. Check out this article for more Hermes bag prices.
Read also: How much cheaper is YSL in Paris?
Will Designer Bags Stay Cheaper in Europe?
Luxury designers are well aware that shoppers travel to Europe in order to secure bags at lower prices. There have been attempts to curb this practice in recent years through price harmonization across different regions.
In particular, Chanel increased its European prices not once, but twice in 2022 to counteract cost savings resulting from the parity between the US Dollar and the Euro.
These price hikes, combined with increased consumer demand for luxury goods, mean that massive savings on designer bags in Europe may be a thing of the past.
That’s not to say prices will be equal between the US and Europe, just that savings might be more modest going forward.
Another way to save on designer bags is to buy them pre-loved. That is a sustainable way to save some money and get your dream designer bags.
To summarize, the answer to the question "are designer bags cheaper in Europe?" is a definite YES.
If you’ve got your eye on a designer bag and already have a trip to Europe planned, then it’s certainly worth checking out the boutiques during the course of your travels.
While price savings for designer bags in Europe might not be as much as they used to be in the past, there are still good deals to be had.