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Insight: British luxury retailers benefit from Pre-Ramadan rush

Increased tourist spend by Middle Eastern visitors to the UK in April has continued the ‘pre-Ramadan rush’ retail trend, according to new figures.


Insight: British luxury retailers benefit from Pre-Ramadan rush

The data from tax free shopping expert Global Blue has revealed that international tax free shopping spend by Middle Eastern nations, including United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, rose by 8% year-on-year in April and has grown by 12% in the year to date.

Prior to Ramadan, which this year will be taking place from 26 May to 24 June, Middle Eastern travellers typically enjoy a luxury holiday ahead of their month-long religious commitment.

Gordon Clark, Global Blue managing director UK and Ireland, said: “The ‘pre-Ramadan rush’ is a key annual calendar moment for UK retail tourism operators, reaffirmed by consistent year on year growth.

“Middle Eastern visitors have continued to make travel decisions to the UK in the face of low oil prices and, consequently, reduced economic growth forecasts.

“The favourable exchange rates have, without doubt, encouraged visitors’ UK purchasing behaviour, as well as the market’s sincere appreciation for British luxury goods accompanied by a high level of service.”

Global Blue’s figures demonstrate the importance of the market to the UK. Middle Eastern nations have collectively accounted for the largest share of the international tax free spend market so far for 2017 at 37%. This is followed by China at 20%.

Outperforming other visiting nations, Middle Eastern shoppers spend £1,101 on average per transaction. Qatari shoppers accounted for the highest average spend in April at £1,744 per transaction, followed by the UAE at £1,318 and Saudi Arabia at £1,082.

Clark added: “With Ramadan ending in the last days of June, we anticipate a high volume of spend from Middle Eastern shoppers during July – a few weeks earlier than last year – contributing to another strong month for UK retail tourism.”

Global Blue’s figures also show that international tax free spend in the UK grew by 38% year-on-year in April to mark the tenth consecutive month of growth. The increase was largely due to increased activity from China, the UK’s single biggest non-EU tourist market.

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