International spend is back to strength for 2015 following a slowdown in growth last year, and London’s West End is reaping the benefits. Spend in the West End is up 4% YOY to date according to Global Blue, following a 3% YOY decline in 2014, as shoppers from top spending nations China, Middle East and South East Asia are shown to be spending over a third (38%) more in the capital’s top shopping district.
Between January and April 2015, spend growth from key nations in the West End returned to the double digit growth it has seen in previous years. Middle Eastern frontrunners Qatar and Saudi Arabia saw sales jump 12% and 28% YOY respectively and the USA has seen 23% YOY growth. China retained its position as the leader representing 20% of spend and seeing a 9% YOY increase to date, and it’s influence has continued to ripple out to South East Asia seeing Hong Kong to become a clear rising star, with spend up 48% YOY.
London still sits behind Paris as the most popular shopping destination; the capital’s retailers will need to do more to entice high spending globe shoppers this year.
Luca Solca, Head of Luxury Goods at Exane BNP Paribas, comments, "There is strong competition to secure overseas tourists in Europe, as domestic luxury demand remains subdued. The London West End has major cards to play to win a fair share of this all important business."
Alex Fong, Head of External Relations and Insight at London & Partners, the official promotional company for the capital, added: “In 2014 a record 17.4m overseas visitors came to London providing an £11.8bn boost to the capital’s economy. Growth in overseas visits to London is forecast to continue and iconic shopping locations like Oxford, Regent and Bond Streets are key destinations for those international shoppers who account for 48% of all visitor spend across the city. This presents an enormous opportunity for businesses to offer attractive events and services to this important market.”
As the pre-Ramadan rush approaches, and in anticipation of the awaited surge over Chinese Golden Week in October, retailers across the West End are getting ahead of the game to boost their international shopper services ready to capitalise on the influxes of big spenders.