Where is the Cheapest Place to Buy a Chanel Classic?

To shop or not to shop… Rarely is that the question for a Chanel handbag lover. Especially one on vacation. But, with international price changes and Chanel’s harmonization strategy, you might be better off buying at home. PurseBop does the handbag math for you!

There was a time when an American Chanel lover’s trip to France was planned with (or around, if you were really committed) a visit to Rue Cambon for a big handbag splurge. Back then, the savings that resulted from purchasing abroad were often large enough to bankroll all or part of one’s airfare!

PurseBop’s Handbag Math Featured in the UK’s Daily Mail;
How Much Does a Birkin Cost in Paris? – The Handbag Math;
Chanel Defies Gravity – US Prices Go Up.

Back then, not only could you save money abroad, but you “could” re-categorize it into your “travel budget” rather than handbags LOL.

Indeed, in 2017, one loyal PurseBop reader saved about 20% by purchasing her Chanel Gabrielle in France rather than the United States. Read: Handbag Math: You Can Still Save Money Buying Chanel Abroad (Chanel Gabrielle Bag Case Study). In 2018, PurseBop herself described saving over $500 (or 12%ish) by sourcing her special Boy in Paris.

Handbag Math

Photo. redit: @flaviastuttgen

As we’ve reported many times, Chanel’s global price equalization strategy is (intentionally by Chanel) putting a crimp in this vacation spending strategy. (Read: Global Chanel Price Increases Eliminate Advantages to Shopping Abroad) Notably, an implicit encouragement to shop at home likely helped Chanel during the pandemic as it no longer needed to rely on travel to boost sales. (Read: Chanel Foresees Tougher Times Ahead).

Chanel Handbag Math

Photo Credit: @thetravelingal

And now, after the latest round of price increases in January 2021, the tables have completely turned…

Most Chanel bags in Europe are now priced 8-10% higher than in the United States. Put differently, there is no advantage to traveling to Paris just to buy a Chanel bag. In fact, that bag could be more expensive in France than at home in the States. Yes, there is a small relief with a 10% VAT refund. However, if you also factor in the import duty you would pay on return and compare it with the final price you would pay for a bag purchased in the US, the prices equalize!  And that’s surely not pure coincidence!

Take a look:

Chanel Bag StyleUS Price in USDEU Price in EurosEU Price in USD% diff
Classic Medium Flap Bag$6,800€6,050$7,3819%
Chanel 19 Medium Bag$5,100€4,500$5,4908%
Chanel Bag StyleUS Price in US$EU Price in EurosEU Price in US$% diff
Classic Medium Flap Bag$6,800€6,050$7,3819%
Chanel 19 Medium Bag$5,100€4,500$5,4908%

€1.00 EUR = $1.22 USD

Exchange rates refer to Feb 2021. Given daily fluctuations in exchange rates, values are subject to change

Here’s the HANDBAG MATH for the Medium Classic Flap Bag

Price in US: $6,800

Price in Europe: € 6,050

Total Cost in US: $6800+ $629 (sales tax of 9.25%)= $7,429

Total cost in Europe: $7,381 – $738 (VAT refund @10%) + $738 (import duty @10%) = $7,381

What you save = $7429- $7381 = $48!!!

Handbag Math

Photo Credit: @karlakeunecke

Essentially, buying that medium classic flap in Paris may also get you a couple of sandwiches and coffee. Of course, we don’t underestimate the experience of purchasing at Rue Cambon and having a bag that conjures memories of a wonderful trip… Priceless. But you won’t save any real money. Moreover, while the United States already saw its 2021 price hikes, the EU has not. That means… prices are only going up in Europe and that bag may end up being even more expensive abroad.

So, as we all happily anticipate resuming travel in 2021 please know that shopping abroad for Chanel won’t bring a bargain. Visit Europe, enjoy the sightseeing, culture, food, adventure etc. And of course, feel free to shop for trinkets and treasures. But it will be full price.

With this in mind where do you plan to travel this summer? And what handbags do you hope to bring home?

Love PurseBop

Published: February 20th, 2021
Updated: March 2nd, 2021

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