Manchester & Birmingham steal international shoppers from London

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London’s position as the number one shopping destination in the UK is under threat as international shoppers are travelling to Birmingham and Manchester instead.
Changing shopper trends are forcing retailers to re-evaluate their plans to attract international shoppers.
// London’s status as the UK’s number one destination for international shoppers is challenged by other major cities
// Manchester & Birmingham hosting the Cricket World Cup attracted international visitors
// Department stores encourage tourists to spend £250 more per transaction in Manchester & Birmingham compared to London

London’s position as the number one shopping destination in the UK is under threat as international shoppers are travelling to Birmingham and Manchester instead.

The latest figures from payments provider Planet show that London’s share of international shopper spend in the UK fell by over four percentage points so far this year.

Total international shopper sales have increased by 14 per cent in Manchester and five per cent in Birmingham compared to 2018.

This increase was driven in part by a high number of visitors travelling to watch the Cricket World Cup this summer.


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Manchester and Birmingham hosted 11 World Cup games including the two semi-finals – which attracted 80,000 Indian citizens to the cities.

Overall, tourists have spent more per transaction up north and in the midlands compared to London.

International shoppers have spent an average of £679 in Manchester and £675 in Birmingham per transaction so far this year, reported Planet.

This is an increase of 19 per cent and 22 per cent respectively compared with 2018.

Manchester and Birmingham’s significantly higher ATVs were aided by the number of department stores in these locations.

International shoppers were able to purchase multiple items at the same time, without having to go from store to store across London’s West End.

Increased sales of watches and jewellery were also a key contributor to driving the ATV in these two cities.

Planet revealed that the overall sales of these items increased by 25 per cent in the UK in 2019 compared with 2018.

Watches and jewellery are popular among Indian shoppers, who spent an average of £490 on these items per transaction year to date in 2019.

Tourists are likely to spend nearly four times more than domestic shoppers, and so far this year, sales to international shoppers have grown by 5 per cent compared with 2018.

Last year’s sales to international shoppers were worth nearly £7 billion, and some retailers saw up to 60 per cent of their sales going to non-domestic customers.

Although London’s share is decreasing, its sales to international shoppers grew in 2019, suggesting that all regions are benefiting from international shoppers while distribution across the country is becoming more equitable.

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