Personal Finance

Here's How a No-Deal Brexit Will Affect EU Clothing Prices

If there's a no-deal Brexit, prepare to pay more for clothes from Europe. We've done the research and found out how much you might pay due to tariffs on European imports, to help you budget for your favourite fashions.

Brits love clothes from Italy—plus Germany, the Netherlands, France and more. Unfortunately a no-deal Brexit means clothes imported from the EU will be subject to tariffs, making them more expensive. We've found out how much the tariffs will be and done back-of-the envelope calculations to find the economic impact for the average UK household, so you know how much to budget for your favourite brands.

Tariffs on European Clothes

Clothing imported to the UK from the EU will be subject to a substantial 11.5% tariff on average, if there's a no-deal Brexit. Shoes will be hit with a 4.1% tariff on average, although tariffs on some items could be as high as 17% (e.g., some waterproof and sports footwear). It's safe to assume that most if not all of the tariffs will be passed on to consumers (otherwise retailers would take a massive hit to their profit margins). As a result, UK consumers could see average prices for European fashions rise by 11.5% for clothing and 4.1% for footwear due to tariffs alone, if there's a no-deal Brexit.

Average No-Deal MFN Tariffs on EU Clothing and Shoes
Clothing11.5%
Coats12%
Dresses, shirts and jumpers12%
Baby clothes10.5% - 11%
Gloves & mittens8.9%
Footwear4.1%
chart showing tariffs on clothing imports from the EU
EU clothing prices might rise this much

Percent of Wearable Imports from the EU

The UK imports a significant amount of our clothing from the EU—on par with import levels from China and Bangladesh combined. In 2017, the EU sent us 30% of our imported clothing and 50% of our imported shoes. As a result, tariffs are likely to have a noticeable impact on our shopping budgets.

Imported from EUImported from WorldEU Percentage of Imports
Clothing£6 billion£20 billion30%
Footwear£2.6 billion£5.3 billion50%
chart showing percentage of wearable imports from the EU
Many of our wearable imports would be subject to no-deal tariffs

EU Clothing Tariffs per Household

In 2017, we imported over £6 billion of clothing and £2.6 billion of footwear from the EU. No-deal tariffs on these imports would tally £800 million in each year that we trade without a free trade agreement (assuming the value of imports stays the same). When considered on a "per household" basis, the cost of no-deal with regards to clothing and footwear imports could be £30 per year—but households that buy more from Europe would clearly be harder hit.

EU Clothing Tariffs per HouseholdImported from EU 2017Tariffs (%)Total Tariffs (£)Tariffs Per Household (£)
Clothing£6,021,000,00011.5%£692,415,000£25.55
Footwear£2,617,000,0004.1%£107,297,000£3.96
Total£8,638,000,000£799,712,000£29.51

Where Do EU Clothes Come From?

Our favourite European fashions come from Italy—in fact, Italy accounts for around 20% of the clothing and shoes imported from the EU. Our EU clothing mostly comes from Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and France; footwear is mostly imported from Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.

Where Does the UK's EU Clothing & Footwear Come From?ClothingFootwear
Italy19%21%
Germany16%18%
Netherlands14%20%
France14%9%
Spain9%6%
Belgium8%15%
Romania5%n/a
Portugal3%3%
Irish Republic2%1%
Denmark2%1%
Poland2%2%
Sweden1%n/a
Bulgaria1%n/a
Greece1%n/a
chart showing which European countries we import clothing and footwear from
Most popular European clothing imports in the UK

Why Tariffs in the Event of No-Deal Brexit?

If the UK leaves the European Union without a trade deal, then the trade between the EU and UK will fall under international trade rules set by the World Trade Organization (WTO). In that case, imports and exports between the EU and UK will be subject to Most Favoured Nation tariffs.

Unfortunately trade deals can take years to negotiate and implement, so we could be paying tariffs on European clothes and shoes for some time if we leave the EU without a free trade deal in place. If you have your eye on a dress from Italy or shoes from Belgium, you might just save money in the long run if you buy now!

For information on how a no-deal Brexit might impact food prices, see are accompanying article, No-Deal Brexit? Here's the Impact of Tariffs on Your Weekly Shop.

Comments and Questions