An American Invasion

How the Americans Came to Dominate London's Shopping Scene.

From the turn of the twentieth century until the outbreak of the First World War, Americans flooded London each summer in their thousands, with many travelling for the sole purpose of shopping.

Contemporary newspaper articles referred to this phenomenon as the 'American invasion' and one diarist, Elizabeth L. Banks even claimed 'a stranger descending from an aeroplane upon London during these days of July might think he had lost his way and landed in the United States for...the American tourists are here...This is why according to summer custom, the Star Spangled Banner flies so proudly in Oxford Street, Regent Street and others, to attract them to the shops. Signs are displayed everywhere explaining that 'American money is accepted here' and all goods are marked with their value in dollars and cents, immediately following the pound, shilling and pence mark'.

If you listen carefully, you may still hear the odd American accent in and amongst these streets, however, research suggests the Chinese community now dominates London's shopping scene, with places like Harrods even offering China UnionPay terminals to help such customers splash their cash.



Oxford Street, West London.