Spending on retail goods by visitors to the UK increased by 20 per cent year-on-year in December, the highest growth in a decade, new research has shown.
Traveller services company Global Blue says that this increase represents almost a 600 per cent growth in tax free spending by tourists in the UK compared to December 2001, underlining the growing importance of international shoppers to domestic retailers.
British brands such as Burberry now have a keen global audience and with the value of the pound making shopping for designer goods cheaper in the UK than in many of the tourists‘ own countries, premium shopping destinations like the West End in London are becoming a magnet for cash rich foreigners.
Richard Brown, VP Global Blue UK, said: “December is the most crucial month of the year for retail and an early start to sales across luxury and designer brands whipped tourists into a spending frenzy, providing a welcome buffer against an anticipated dip in Christmas trading.
“December figures highlight the present wealth and spending power of tourists, particularly Chinese and Nigerian shoppers whose average spend per transaction both grew year-on-year by 19 per cent in the same period from £614 to £729 and £436 to £517 respectively.”
Middle Eastern tourists spend the most per transaction in UK stores, £753 on average, closely followed by visitors from China, Russia and then Nigeria.
Oil-rich Nigeria has a growing middle class who are beginning to travel to other countries with increasing frequency, making them a rising big money spender within the UK.
Retailers will be hoping to secure plenty of so called ‘peking pound‘ later this month when Chinese tourist flock to London for their New Year celebration on January 23rd, a prime time for non-tax spending.