Pam Parisi was leading rain soaked group of shoppers through New York's fashion district the other morning, snaking between buildings to visit sample sales. Pam calls her tours Elegant Tightwad Shopping Excursions and she's always had a lot of bargain hunting foreigners in her groups. But this season something's changed. 11 of 12 shoppers in her group this day are Europeans.
"I don't what's happened to the Americans," Pam tells me, "but the Europeans are coming in droves! In droves." I ask her if it's changing her business. "It is," she shoots back, "over the past month or so it has shifted dramatically!"
As the value of the dollar has fallen against the British pound and the Euro, the US has become a shopper's paradise to Europeans. A million are expected to visit New York City alone this month. About 50,000 more than last year. One British travel agent says he's bookings to the US are up 40% this season.
"The word is you gotta come out here and shop like crazy." says Kate Candon who has come from Dublin. "Okay I'll admit I brought a very big suitcase to allow for the extra baggage."
Elizabeth Morton, an English tourist, says everyone on the plane over was talking about making a mad dash to the malls as soon as they landed. As Elizabeth followed Pam Parisi to all the fashion wholesalers she couldn't stop smiling.
"I've been manically shopping for four days!" she confessed while trying on a sweater. "My feet hurt."