A Feeding Frenzy For Foreign Shoppers

Devoted Mac fans begin their Black Friday shopping at the Fifth Avenue Apple store at midnight on Friday morning, Nov. 23, 2007 in New York.
AP Photo/Jin Lee
When Pam Parisi leads shopping excursions through New York's fashion district, she's used to getting some foreign tourists in her group. But the morning when CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason tagged along, 11 of her 12 customers were Europeans.

"We've always had Brits. We've always had Irish people, Europeans," said Parisi, director of Elegant Tightwad shopping excursions. "But now they're coming in droves. In droves!"

Because with the dollar near record lows, to Europeans like Elizabeth Morton, it looks like we're giving it all away.

"I've been manically shopping for four days!" Morton said. "My feet hurt."

The influx has been awesome. One million Europeans are expected to visit New York City this month alone. That's about 50,000 more than last year.

Picking the foreigners out at Big City Outlets is easy. They're the ones dragging suitcases behind them.

"It's like a feeding frenzy," said British travel agent Shane Mallon.

Mallon says his bookings to the United States are up nearly 40 percent this season.

"And it's purely driven by the desire to shop, shop, shop," Mallon said.

Some foreign shoppers aren't even leaving home to buy here. The Virginia-based Web site Dyscern.com sells reconditioned electronics, like iPods and digital cameras.

"Our products are great deals for those overseas. Thirty percent of our business is overseas," said Jennifer Canty, who runs Dyscern.com.

The iPod Nano she sells for $189 would cost the equivalent of $240 in England.

But for busloads of foreign tourists, the land of opportunity suddenly looks like the sale of the century.

  • Anthony Mason

    CBS News senior business and economics correspondent; Co-host, "CBS This Morning: Saturday"