Currency Dumping at the Airport Falls Dramatically in the Last 12 Months

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Difficult economic conditions mean British holidaymakers are spending less in airport departure lounges and holding onto more foreign currency when they return.


  •     Number of airport spenders remains steady but average spend falls
  •     Grooming products are the worst hit by cutbacks

The amount that British holidaymakers spent in airport departure lounges in the last 12 months has fallen to £378 million(1), down from £1 billion in September 2007(²), new research by Santander Cards has revealed.

Departure lounge shops are feeling the pinch as Britons tighten their belts in the difficult economic conditions and the weak pound makes it more economic for holidaymakers to hold onto leftover foreign currency for their next trip rather than use it up at the airport.

While the number of Britons who indulge in last minute spending at the airport has remained largely unchanged at 35 per cent, compared to 36 per cent in September 2007, the average amount frittered away at the airport has fallen significantly from £65 to £24 per spender.

Grooming products have been worse hit, with the number of returning holidaymakers buying perfume or aftershave at the airport falling from 31 per cent to 20 per cent. Only four areas recorded increased spend - food and drink (increasing to 70 per cent from 58 per cent), books (17 per cent from 13 per cent), toiletries (11 per cent from eight per cent) and clothes (five per cent from four per cent).

The research also found that people aged 18 to 34 are more likely to spend leftover foreign currency in the airport, with 81 per cent of those holidaying abroad admitting to currency dumping, compared to 68 per cent of those over 55.

Callum Gibson, Director at Santander Cards, says: "With holidaymakers trying to make their money go further this year, it's not surprising that non-essential spending at the airport has fallen dramatically in the last 12 months. Britons are resisting the lure of departure lounge shops and either sticking to their holiday budget or holding onto any leftover foreign currency for their next trip.

"For holidaymakers who don't want the hassle and expense of either using up leftover foreign currency at the end of their trip or changing it back, Santander's Zero credit card is ideal for spending abroad, being the only card on the market with no foreign exchange fee anywhere in the world and no cash advance fee. It also offers 0 per cent on balance transfers for 12 months and purchases for three months, making it the ultimate all-rounder this summer."

Features of the Santander Zero card include:

  •     The only card on the market with no foreign exchange fee and no cash advance fee
  •     Zero per cent on balance transfers for 12 months and purchases for three months
  •     Available in branch, by calling 0800 032 4265 or visiting http://www.santandercards.co.uk

The information contained in our press releases is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions.

Notes to Editors
1)    Research conducted by Opinium Research in an online poll of 2,000 British adults in May 2009.
2)    Based on research from ICM, who interviewed 1,009 adults in September 2007.

Abbey rebranded its credit cards as Santander on Monday 15 June. The rebrand followed the announcement in May that Santander's three UK businesses, Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley Savings, will adopt the Santander global brand and name in 2010.

About Us
Santander (SAN.MC, STD.N) is a retail and commercial bank, based in Spain, with operations in more than 40 countries. At the end of 2008, Santander was the largest bank in the euro zone by market capitalization and third in the world by profit. Founded in 1857, Santander had EUR 1,168 billion in managed funds at the end of 2008. Following the acquisition of Sovereign Bancorp of the U.S. in January 2009, Santander has 90 million customers, more than 14,000 branches - more than any other international bank - and over 180,000 employees. It is the largest financial group in Spain and Latin America, with leading positions in the United Kingdom and Portugal and a broad presence in Europe through its Santander Consumer Finance arm. In 2008, Santander registered €8,876 million in net attributable profit, an increase of 9% from the previous year excluding capital gains.

In the UK, Santander operates three retail businesses - Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and the savings business of Bradford & Bingley. Together they have over 1300 branches, around 4,500 cash machines and they provide a full range of retail and corporate banking services to 24 million customers.

Siobhan O'Shea    Tel: 020 7756 4189
Louisa Dreja        Tel: 020 7756 4211    Mobile: 07787 155 153

The press office operates from 8.00am to 6.00pm. Outside of these hours please call 0800 5877708.

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Triston Robinson
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