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Why Shopping Getaways Are on the Rise

Shopping has become a primary motivator for travel.  

U.S. News & World Report

Why Shopping Getaways Are on the Rise

Composite of a man and woman shopping.

Top shopping spots across the country are luring visitors with special deals and promotions.(Getty Images)

Whether it's a trip to the stylish stores of New York City, the venerable chains along Chicago's Magnificent Mile or the luxury boutiques in Newport Beach, California, a growing number of travelers are embarking on shopping sprees.

In La Jolla, California, for example, 47 percent of visitors reported traveling to the area to shop, falling just behind other popular activities, such as visiting the beach and frequenting the area's restaurants and clubs, according to a 2013 study conducted by the San Diego Tourism Authority. "La Jolla has it all from an idyllic Mediterranean-style setting by the sea to the finest shopping and gourmet dining in San Diego. That's incredibly attractive to visitors to shop and explore such a posh area of town," says Robert Arends, public relations manager for the San Diego Tourism Authority. 

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization's 2015 Global Report on Shopping Tourism, shopping has become a determinant factor, and in some cases a primary factor, impacting where travelers choose to take their trips. 

The Economic Impact of Shopping Tourism 

Visitors who come to an area primarily to shop inevitably spend money in local stores and boutiques. Visit Santa Barbara, the official tourism board for Santa Barbara, found that about 30 percent of visitor spending was in the shopping category in its 2008 Visitor Profile survey. Meanwhile, at La Jolla's annual Fashion Week each October, which showcases emerging designers and the area's fashionable boutiques, hotels and restaurants, more than 20,000 people flock to the area, spending plenty of dollars on accommodations, meals and goods.

Downtown Disney, which recently rebranded itself as Disney Springs, at Walt Disney World in Orlando, is an example of the creation of an area entirely focused on shopping to encourage more spending. Filled with many unique shopping experiences, the area draws those looking for a one-of-a-kind Disney souvenir or gift. The new Disney Springs will double the number of shopping, dining and entertainment venues from 75 to 150 once complete in 2016.

A Rising Number of Cities Are Attracting Visitors with Retail Tourism

As the shopping tourism trend continues to grow, many destinations, attractions and hotels are incentivizing visitors with special offers and events, and positioning themselves as great choices for shopping-oriented trips.

As one of the wealthiest cities in the U.S., Newport Beach has long been known as a must-see shopping destination with retail centers like Fashion Island and Crystal Cove Shopping Center. But the area has also poised itself not just as a place to shop for clothes, but also cars. With a robust local car culture due to a variety of auto museums in the area, Newport Beach is also home to Aston Martin, Ferrari, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche car dealerships, among others. The world's largest Mercedes-Benz dealership is located in Newport Beach, and offers free shuttle service from John Wayne Airport. Meanwhile, the Newport Beach Lexus dealership is a $70 million facility complete with a coffee bar, plasma TVs and a putting green. According to the official Newport Beach tourism board, many visitors come to the area specifically to buy a car either at dealerships or at vintage car shows and auctions.

There Are Great Hotels and Resorts for Shopping Sprees

The increase in shopping tourism has sparked many hotels and resorts to entice shoppers with special offerings. These retreats offer easy access to retail hot spots and prime opportunities for shopping getaways of all kinds.

La Valencia Hotel

Ideally situated across the street from Prospect Street, La Valencia Hotel lets shoppers kick back in Spanish-style elegance when they need a break from indulging in retail therapy. Also known as "the pink lady," this San Diego hotel features a serene pool and hot tub with ocean views for unwinding at the end of the day.

Hotel Irvine

This contemporary California retreat in Irvine, California is currently offering a package that allows you to apply a $100 gift card at nearby Fashion Island or the Irvine Spectrum, and grants you two drinks at the on-site bar and lounge.

Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa 

Antique enthusiasts can enjoy West Palm Beach's Antique Row Art & Design District, known as one of the top antiquing areas in the U.S., with a special package at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa. Other hot spots include the high-end Worth Avenue (think: Cartier, Chanel and Gucci) and the open-air CityPlace plaza.

Hyatt Regency Chicago 

Located only a few blocks away from Chicago's Magnificent Mile, the Hyatt Regency Chicago has beautiful river views and a casual marketplace for a quick bite before or after a long day. Plus, you can take advantage of their bed and breakfast package, which includes breakfast to fuel up before hitting the shops and a 2 p.m. late checkout to get in that last spree.

The Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa

Thanks to the influx of travelers coming to the area to shop at La Encantada, an upscale two-level outdoor shopping center, this high-end resort in Tucson, Arizona offers complimentary shuttle service to the center.

The Hotel Wolcott

Located just a few blocks away from Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building and Herald Square, the Hotel Wolcott in New York City offers a three-room shopping suite that can accommodate up to three guests, with one room dedicated for holding guests' shopping bags.

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Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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