A blog by the TransportCloud team. We write about shipping, E-Commerce, international business, and customs.
The United Kingdom is a lucrative market for many importers. Besides the country's position as an economic superpower, UK residents generally have a strong purchasing power compared with residents in other countries. The UK's per capita income was over $47,000 in 2019, and the country's total imports peaked at over £542 billion ($658 billion). These figures show that the UK holds immense opportunities for importers.
This article will provide importers with some insight on the kind of products to import into the UK.
Jewellery importation is one of the largest import markets in the UK. In 2020 alone, the UK imported jewellery worth over $3 billion. This record made it the third largest jewellery importer in the same year. The jewellery culture in the United Kingdom is strong. This culture is because the country has a sizeable female upper class that values authentic jewellery. The residents also strongly prefer marriage-related jewellery like engagement rings and wedding bands. However, the UK's jewellery wave is spreading wider. Reports have shown that the UK is gradually moving towards a widespread trend of male jewellery. As an importer, this trend will significantly increase your target market. Essentially, the UK is a lucrative destination for jewellery products.
Clothing is a necessity. Thus, it is expected that virtually every country will dedicate a portion of its imports to apparel. Following this reasoning, it is unsurprising that the UK has a large apparel importation market. In 2021, UK residents imported apparel worth over £17 billion (approximately $20 billion). India, China, Turkey, and Italy are one of the UK's top partners for importing clothing and textiles. Hence, clothing imports are in high demand within the UK. However, you must note that all clothing classes have different classification codes under the UK importation process. For example, shirts for women are classified as 6106, while shirts for men are classified as 6105.
The UK heavily imports all forms of machinery. Electrical machinery, industrial machinery, and digital machinery (computers) all have a place in the UK market. Electrical machinery accounted for 8.8% of the UK's 2021 imports. The UK also imported general machinery (including computers) worth over $79 billion. These statistics show that machinery importers have a large market in the UK. It is also an opportunity for other importers to leverage the existing market.
Like clothing, food is also a basic necessity. However, while the United Kingdom has a robust industrial sector, the country still imports a sizeable volume of food products. Between March 2021 and February 2022, the UK imported food products worth over £39 billion. The UK imports a wide range of food products, from dairy products to fruits and vegetables. To import food products into the UK, you must remember that food products are controlled products. This means the products might go through more intensive checks before the UK Customs Authority clears them.
Footwear and leather products are also in strong demand in the UK. In 2018, UK residents imported footwear valued at about $117 million. While footwear manufacturing is getting more robust in the UK, the demand for imports remains steady. Thus, this might be the best time for importers to take advantage of the existing demand. The classification awareness is equally essential with footwear and leather products. The UK Customs Authority classifies leather products into six categories. Thus, importers must research what classification code suits their imports.
The UK has a sizeable child population. The country has over 12 million in the UK. Thus, it is no surprise that toys are in high demand in the UK market. The UK imported over £3.5 billion ($4.2 billion). Alongside toys, UK residents also import games and sports materials. These play goods are also in demand within the UK market.
The demand for wooden furniture is growing gradually in the UK. This demand is primarily because more UK residents are interested in exotic furniture styling. In 2020, UK residents imported furniture worth over fourth largest furniture importer in the world. Thus, abundant opportunities exist for importers to ship furniture products to the UK and achieve sizeable profit margins.
Pharmaceutical imports account for a sizeable portion of imports in the UK. The United Kingdom spent over $21 billion on importing pharmaceutical products in 2021. However, while pharmaceutical importation is undoubtedly lucrative in the UK, it is a niche market. This situation means that pharmaceuticals are highly controlled in the UK, and only specific importers are allowed to ship the products into the UK. The Customs Authority also subjects the goods to thorough checks due to their numerous risks.
Homewares include utensils and home decoration products. These goods are gaining significant traction in the UK market and present an opportunity for importers. In 2020, the UK imported home decoration and textile products worth about $15 billion. These figures indicate a growing demand for imported homeware products in the UK.
Like furniture, UK residents are becoming fond of exotic textile floor coverings. This growing interest has significantly increased the UK's market for carpets and rugs. According to Statista , the UK imported carpets and floor coverings worth over £924 million ($1.1 billion). Thus, carpets and rugs are lucrative product options if you want to import them into the UK.
Plastic Articles include plastic containers, luggage, and even car parts in some cases. The UK spent over $21 billion importing plastic materials in 2021. Thus, plastic products have a large market in the UK.
Importers must note that the UK has specific import procedures for most of the product options mentioned above. Some goods can attract tax benefits while the Customs Authority subjects other goods to additional inspections. Regardless of whichever applies to your products, you must be intentional about staying up-to-date on new information about the UK import process. This will reduce the occurrence of unnecessary losses or delays.