Record spend from overseas visitors in November
The figures from retail tourism expert Global Blue support its forecast for a further uplift in retail tourism performance over this year’s festive season and a healthy start for the sector in 2017.
Global Blue’s figures, which show record international shopping spend in the UK by visitors from outside the EU, have been consistently strong since June’s Brexit vote as tourists continue to take advantage of the favourable exchange rates following the weakened pound. July’s increase of 7% was followed by a big rise of 37% for August, 29% in September and 41% in both October and November.
Gordon Clark, managing director Global Blue UK & Ireland, said: “The Christmas period is an incredibly important time for UK retailers. We expect to see an influx of tourists both pre and post-Christmas, as international shoppers buy unique British luxury goods to take home as presents. December 2015 saw a worrying -7% decrease, however this year is on track to deliver incredible results, given the current trading environment working in international visitors’ favour.”
In the year to date, international tax free spend has risen by 14% overall.
Global Blue attributed November’s performance to consistent spend from Asian nations where demand is returning following a tumultuous 2015 in domestic markets, impacted by the economic slowdown in China. Chinese visitors continued to dominate the total monthly share of UK international shopping spend, accounting for 25% of the market, up 63% on the same period last year.
Visitors from Taiwan, despite accounting for just 1% of total UK international tax free spend, had the highest increase of spend, up by 160% year-on-year. Hong Kong shoppers followed closely with a spend increase of 127%, while visitors from the United States’ incraesed their spending by 88%.
Clark added: “Overall, we expect total UK international tax free spend for 2016 to finish on double digit growth, due to the visitor and spend surge in the second half of the year. This will be welcome news to retailers who have braved the tough trading environment amongst the political and economic uncertainty of 2016.”
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