Chinese spend in the UK has continued to grow during 2012, increasing by 50 per cent year-on-year in November, research has revealed.
Research by international shopping experts Global Blue has revealed that reports of the Chinese economy slowing down have not affected Chinese demand for British products, as Chinese spend still accounts for almost 20 per cent of all non-EU international spend.
European luxury brands were afraid that the new Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping’s move to discourage the gifting of luxury goods between businesses and his officials would affect Chinese spend.
However, at present demand for European luxury products is still high among the Chinese, many of whom visit the UK to buy them.
Due to the tax refund policy and exchange rate, European luxury products are 20-30 per cent cheaper in the UK than in China.
Commenting on the findings, Richard Brown, Vice President of Global Blue UK, said: “On visiting Europe and the UK, Chinese tourists are looking for a range of experiences, but the primary reason for Chinese visits to Europe is still to shop.
“Between January and November this year, Chinese spend has shown no signs of slowing down, with sales ins tore up 35 per cent compared to the same eleven month period in 2011.”
Global Blue’s research also revealed massive increases in spend from other countries in south east Asia.
Thailand and Malaysia reported spend increases of 95 per cent and 90 per cent respectively in November.
But China’s spend still eclipses that of most other countries, and with changes to the visa process making it easier to visit the UK, this trend looks set to continue. There has been a 16 per cent increase in arrivals in the last 12 months, adding to the 150,000 Chinese tourists who visited the UK in 2011.
Patricia Yates, Director of Strategy and Communications at VisitBritain, commented: “China represents a key growth market for Britain with high spending visitors who particularly enjoy the British shopping experience and our world-renowned brands.
“It’s no secret that shopping is one of the top priorities for Chinese visitors and these findings will be welcomed by retailers and tourism businesses across Britain, especially as we enter the peak Christmas shopping period and the January sales.”