Buy Zara clothes at a fraction of the cost, and get a flight thrown in

Update 17 July 2017: We tend to think since Brexit that the pound’s weaker than it has been for decades. While somewhat true against the dollar, against the euro it’s only a tad worse now than when I first wrote this in 2014.  

The logic of this blog stands just as strongly now. On the Spanish-English website (read below to understand) many clothes still have a pound price higher than the euro price, even before you convert the currency.

So if you’re planning a trip to Spain or Portugal this summer, don’t go to Zara beforehand – it’s in almost all cases worth waiting until you get there…

If you’re one of the millions planning a trip to Spain at some point this summer, stop shopping at Zara right now. The giant Spanish fashion brand sells clothes in its native country far cheaper than here, so wait until you get there if you’re planning on buying something.

The price difference is enormous. The pound price is often higher than the euro price before you even convert the currency (which further cheapens the euro price).

And while you can’t get English delivery from its Spanish website, the big boon is it gives you the option to select ‘English’ as the language so you can browse in advance for pricing research purposes.

In fact, with budget airline prices as cheap as they are, if you were planning a Zara stock-up, it may be cheaper to find a dirt-cheap Spanish flight and go purchase an armload – though there is of course the hassle factor and environmental impact.

And this isn’t just about Zara similar pricing structures apply for other members of the same group, Massimo Dutti, Pull & Bear and Uterqüe.

From the Spanish website (English language selected)

CHAMBRAY BLAZER WITH ELBOW PATCHES AND BADGE

99.95 EUR


From the UK website (at the same time)


CHAMBRAY BLAZER WITH ELBOW PATCHES AND BADGE

129.00 GBP

Using TravelMoneyMax to convert at the top card rate, this shows the pound cost of this jacket is currently £81. In other words, it’s £50 cheaper than the same jacket bought in the UK.

In some cases it’s cheaper to fly to Spain and buy there

Doing only a touch of research (see my Cheap Flights guide), I found a Ryanair flight to Santander in Spain (not the bank), for £42 return (hand luggage only). So it would actually be cheaper to jump on a plane to Spain and buy the jacket there – though of course add in airport transport and hotel costs and they skew the equation.

Of course I’m using some journalistic licence here to prove a point. You’d obviously need to get to and from the airport and may want a hotel. Yet if you’re a Zara fetishist and are stocking up for yourself and your family (and perhaps taking orders for friends too), the economics could work.

This is especially powerful as Zara rarely gives out vouchers or discount codes. To get reductions you’re reliant on waiting for things to move into the sale – so there are only limited opportunities for reductions on full-price goods.

Don’t believe the euro price you see on British labels

Rather interestingly there’s no homogenised euro price. On the Zara France site, for example, the same jacket is €139, not that much less than in the UK.

This is a crucial point, as sometimes UK Zara clothes have two price tags, one in pounds, one in euros. Yet I’ve never seen one of those that is listing the crucial price for Spain or Portugal where it is cheapest – normally its the French price. So if you look at clothes and they’ve a pound price tag and a euro price tag – that’s not likely to be the really cheap one.

On average, Zara in Spain is 39% cheaper (at current exchange rates)

I chose four more items at random on Zara, all of them cost less in euros than the pound figure, and I checked the price on both the Spanish and UK sites at the same time.

  • (WOMENSWEAR) CROSSOVER STUDIO DRESS WITH BELT €60 (converts to £48.50). Price on UK site £79.95, so 40% cheaper in Spain.
  • (WOMENSWEAR) LEATHER CLUTCH WITH FRINGES €79.95 (converts to £64.70). Price on UK site £119.95, so almost half price (47% cheaper) in Spain.
  • (MENSWEAR) HAWAIIAN PRINT SHIRT €29.95 (converts to £25). Price on UK site £39.95, so 37% cheaper in Spain.
  • (GIRLS’) FAUX LEATHER JACKET €39.95 (converts to £32.30). Price on UK site £42.95, so 25% cheaper in Spain.

Overall, for the five items on the Spanish site, the price is £203; while the same items on the UK site are £331 – that means on average, it’s 39% cheaper in Spain, though of course it’s worth noting that not all stores carry all stock. So there is a chance that if you’re after something very specific, it won’t be in the store there.

I’d love to know which other big store chains are proven to be far cheaper, and are only a relatively short flight away.