Social media campaign launches as fight continues to save UK tax free sales

By Andrew Pentol |

The social media campaign was created by Sally Alington, Founder and CEO, Ethos Farm.

A new social media campaign has been launched today (8 December) after the government legislated to remove the VAT Retail Export Scheme (VAT RES) from 11pm on 31 December 2020.

The “It Affects Me #LookAgainTaxFree” campaign encourages those who will be impacted by the decision (in the travel retail industry or not) to share selfies holding the words ‘It Affects Me!’ and to use the hashtag #LookAgainTaxFree when posting.

Launched by Sally Alington, Founder and CEO, Ethos Farm, the campaign aims to galvanise grassroots support to bolster the excellent lobbying work which remains ongoing.

Alington has been a vocal supporter of the lobbying work undertaken by the New West End Company (NWEC) and Association of International Retail (AIR) led by Jace Tyrell. She is also supporting the judicial review appeals by Heathrow Airport and World Duty Free.

The passing of the legislation to remove the VAT RES was confirmed after it emerged a statutory instrument had been laid on 3 December.


This publication launched a petition on 30 October 2020 to ‘Keep tax-free sales at airports and the VAT Retail Export Scheme’. The petition hit 10,000 signatures on the evening of 2 December meaning the government is now obliged to respond.

The ‘It Affects Me #LookAgainTaxFree’ campaign encourages those who will be impacted by the decision to share selfies holding the words ‘It Affects Me!’ and to use the hashtag #LookAgainTaxFree when posting.

Alington said: “The aim of this campaign is to get the government to look into the eyes of all those who are going to be affected by the UK Treasury’s decision. It is about putting human faces to this.

“There are real people out there, potentially 40,000 or more who will be directly impacted. There is a much wider span of job roles and sectors that will feel the impact of the abolition of tax free shopping in the UK. I do not believe this has truly been considered by the UK government.”

She added: “By using #LookAgainTaxFree on every post we are keeping social media noise channelled through the same, existing hashtag whether posted on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or Facebook.”

Further reflecting on last week’s government decision, Alington believes it will be devastating for the UK economy should there be no reversal. “Think about the jobs in airport retail, high street retail and the tourists who will no longer choose the UK as their shopping destination.

TRBusiness’ petition had accumulated 10,984 signatures at the time of writing.

“This will impact hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions, train companies and entertainment venues. None of these far reaching and long-lasting economic factors have been considered. Add into this the chaos and cost of having to change till systems, product pricing, consumer communications and employee communications.”

The objective of the campaign is to create a groundswell of organic public pressure on the government, in addition to the pressure it is facing from the NEWC & AIR ‘Saving Tax Free Shopping in the UK’ campaign.

Alington concluded: “It is puzzling beyond words that at a time when ‘Global Britain’ is supposed to be ‘open for business’ and attracting the world to visit, we would decide to be the only country in Europe not to offer tax free shopping to international tourists.

“It is either arrogance on the part of the UK Government that tourists will visit and spend regardless, or ignorance at the true scale of this decision. Whichever it is, it will damage our aviation and retail industries at a time when they are both on their knees, not to mention the impact to the wider UK economy. We must secure a reversal.”


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