Mail Boxes Etc. UK & Ireland's blog


Shopping on vacation: the trends to monitor

What tourists buy when they’re on holiday

A stay away from home, for work or leisure, is often an opportunity to shop. For many, this means looking for local products, often buying direct from artisans or workshops.

Travellers often allocate part of their budget, in addition to accommodation expenses and tickets for local attractions, to shopping – buying souvenirs and unique items to take back home or give to relatives and friends. That’s why today, visitors play a key role in the economy and development of tourist areas and major cities, representing a huge market with serious business potential.

According to data from Eurostat, in 2021 there were over 1.8 billion overnight stays in accommodation facilities in the EU, and this positive trend is sure to continue. But what are the most popular souvenirs for tourists? And how can small artisans and local retailers enhance their products with solutions that make it even easier for customers to buy from them when they’re on vacation?

·       There are 1.8 billion overnight stays in accommodation facilities in the European Union

·       Changing travel habits influence tourist shopping trends

Travellers’ most-wanted souvenirs

In recent years, people’s travel habits have changed radically: long trips, typically made during the summer vacation, have given way to or been accompanied by shorter weekend trips in which only light baggage is usually taken. This also influences purchases: small items that can be carried in hand luggage or a backpack are often preferred to bulky or delicate objects.

However, it’s still possible to encourage tourists to buy any item that catches their eye – large or small. Offering a reliable shipping service can be the trump card that closes the sale. Any concerns about an item’s bulk or weight can be easily solved by a dedicated and experienced shipping partner.

Here are some of the top items that tourists are buying now.

Reproductions of famous monuments. Models of Tower Bridge, the Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum are on show in houses all over the world. Although the trend is to buy small and easily transportable versions, some people can’t resist the charm of a larger reproduction, but the difficulty of getting these items back home can put them off.

Vases and terracotta. Many countries have their own unique hand-decorated ceramics that tourists love. These pieces instantly evoke the atmosphere and charm of a region, village or city, but once properly packaged they can be bulky, which often creates problems for travellers.

Objects in wood and metal. Among the objects that most fascinate travellers are reproductions of medieval weapons, armour and helmets, as well as religious symbols and traditional musical instruments such as drums. Most of these are either heavy, have sharp edges or are easily breakable.

Copies of works of art. The market for art reproductions has ancient origins and doesn’t seem to suffer during economic downturns. Expert packaging and additional precautions to guarantee the safety of the object are vital, and this is where it pays to recommend to customers a bespoke shipping solution.

Traditional clothing. From shawls and hats to knitwear and leather items, tourists love to buy clothes and accessories that are specific to the region they’re visiting. Although easier to pack in a suitcase than some other souvenirs, they can make luggage bulky and the more delicate items could get damaged.

Food, wine and spirits. Bringing home a flavour of the trip is a way to prolong a pleasant stay and a welcome gift for friends and relatives. It can be tricky to ship wines, liqueurs and oils, however, and the risk of breaking precious bottles often means that tourists give up on these purchases.

Prints and collectibles. It’s not only traditional objects that fascinate travellers. Soft furnishings, art prints, lamps and other homewares are increasingly popular with anyone looking to inject style and originality into their home.

Making it easy

If you can offer your tourist customers a way to get items shipped home safely, swiftly and easily, you can open routes to sales opportunities that are generally closed. That’s why it makes sense to work with a shipping partner with international expertise and experience in handling fragile, delicate and valuable items.

Mail Boxes Etc. works alongside galleries, retailers, artisans and boutiques that want to make the most of the opportunities for additional sales that the tourist market offers. With flexible shipping solutions tailored to each item, customised packaging where required and a thorough knowledge of import regulations, MBE offers a professional pack and ship service, with every consignment fully trackable, plus additional peace of mind with MBE CoverProtect, which covers the value of the item in the unlikely event of loss or damage in transit.


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