Shoppers from China, Russia and United Arab Emirates are set to be the key drivers of retail sales in London’s West End this year, according to new research.
The GlobeShopper Calendar, developed by New West End Company and shopping analyst Global Blue, predicts that visitors from these nations will help boost trading in Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street by £2 billion over the course of 2011.
Retail tourism numbers are expected to grow by 15 per cent year-on-year in 2011, with emerging markets such as Kuwait and Nigeria also contributing a great deal to the upturn in trade from international shoppers.
In terms of average spend per UK visit it is predicted that people from Saudi Arabia will splash out a huge £1,974 on hotels, food and shopping, much of which will find its way into the tills of London’s designer retailers and up-market department stores such as Selfridges.
The average spend figure is slightly lower - albeit still at a significantly high level - for shoppers from Kuwait, Nigeria and China, at £1,780, £1,648 and £1,310 respectively.
Richard Dickinson, CEO of New West End Company, which represents 600 retailers and businesses located in the West End of London, said: “Tourism is a key growth sector that can help drive the UK economy into better times.
“Shopping is an increasingly important part of the mix for many international visitors and London’s West End remains the UK’s best shopped window.”
Despite the encouraging predictions for international shopping figures in the year ahead, there are concerns that London’s West End is missing out on even more trade from certain markets due to visa restrictions.
“Chinese Tour Operators tell us that the current visa arrangements for Chinese shoppers entering Britain do restrict visitor numbers considerably,” Dickinson added.
“We think that West End retailers are missing out on £16 million per year in trade from Chinese visitors unable to navigate an overly bureaucratic visa process.”