Chinese New Year to offer much-needed boost for UK retail

Chinese New Year 2018

A boost in spending in February as a result of Chinese New Year could ease concerns of economic downturn across the UK, according to a retail tourism firm.

Global Blue said that because visitors from China consistently remain the number one spending nationality in the UK, this year’s Chinese New Year will aid shopper increase and provide retailers with a much-needed sales boost in the first quarter of 2018.

The weakened sterling, China’s strengthening economic position, relaxed China-UK tourist visa rules, new direct flights between the two countries, and the work of the UK Chinese Visitor Alliance will also contribute to a rise in retail spend during Chinese New Year, which starts today.

While Global Blue did not reveal exact figures of how much it thinks sales would grow during Chinese New Year, it said that spending grew 23.5 per cent year-on-year during last year’s event and 8.9 per cent year-on-year in 2016.

In addition, in 2017 tax-free spending from Chinese tourists surged 32 per cent year-on-year, with visitors from China accounting for 28 per cent of all tax-free sales in the UK.

The boost in sales this month will come on the back of a slow month of sales in January, which Global Blue partly attributed to a marginal two per cent year-on-year increase of international sales from non-EU visitors and a two per cent decrease on the average spend per transaction, at £817.

“Chinese New Year is a key period for UK retail and our historical statistics reveal that spending from Chinese visitors has consistently increased every February over the last three years,” Global Blue UK managing director Gordon Clark said.

“In February 2017 the average spend per transaction for Chinese shoppers was £922, a
23.5 per cent increase from 2016 where average spend per transaction was £746.

“Between 2015 and 2016 spend also increased, this time by 8.9 per cent – average spend per transaction in 2016 was £685.

“Consequently, we are optimistic that sales and spend will continue to rise in February 2018.”

Clark added: “The relaxed visa requirements for Chinese visitors to the UK combined with the weakened pound and new direct flights offers a boosted incentive for shoppers to visit the UK over Paris or Milan this Chinese New Year.”

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