Middle Eastern shoppers visiting the UK increased their spend by 50 per cent year-on-year last month, accounting for the majority of non-EU spend, according to new data.
Shoppers from the region accounted for 26 per cent of non-EU tourist spend in October, driven by celebrations during the second Eid festival which took place between October 26th and 28th 2012.
Such an important date in the Islamic calendar means that many Middle Eastern nationalities holiday at this time while the region’s position as an emerging market means many buyers have invested in residential properties in London due to the regularity of their visits.
According to data from international shopping firm Global Blue which looks into shopping trends between January and October this year, Middle Eastern nationalities have collectively and consistently spent highest average monthly amount of all non-EU countries, favouring luxury brands available in London’s famous West End.
Speaking to Retail Gazette on the magnetic pull of the capital on foreign visitors, Global Blue UK’s Vice President said: “We have one of the most unrivalled choices of stores: from high street to luxury and well-known UK brands.
“You’ll find European flagship stores in London so it’s a very important centre and geographically it’s all condensed into a really small area. Knightsbridge and the West End are easy to walk around and there is a sense of kudos for travellers to say they bought an item in London’s West End rather than their home country where they may be able to get the same brand.
“Language isn’t so much of a barrier in London as some of the other leading international cities; flights from all over the world are easy to get plus visitors can enjoy the added benefits of great restaurants and hotels and general tourist attractions on top of everything else.”
While much has been made in recent years of the growing importance of fashion conscious Chinese shoppers boosting spend in London luxury quarter, last month Chinese visitors increased their spend by 30 per cent compared with the same month last year, falling behind their counterparts from Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, UAE and Egypt.
October’s results follow a pre-Ramadan sales boost in July which saw Middle Eastern spend soar 60 per cent year-on-year, emphasising the opportunity that these events bring retailers in the capital.
Jace Tyrell, Director at New West End Company said: “Middle Eastern spend in the district is worth millions to our retailers, favouring luxury brands such as Cartier and Chanel —in the pre-Ramadan rush this year there was approximately £130?million spent by Middle Eastern visitors, and this grows every year. We expect sales in November to continue this growth trend.”