Sep 29, 2017
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Chinese visitors drive international spending surge in London's West End

Sep 29, 2017

While Greater London footfall has been weaker this summer, in the West End of London, the picture has been completely different with tourists flocking to the city’s key shopping area and sending international spend up in double-digits as a result.

Chinese spending was key to London's West End in July

New figures from The New West End Company (NWEC) and Global Blue show that West End spending by non-EU international visitors rose 19% in July compared to the same moth a year ago with Chinese shoppers the most prominent. They spent an average of £1,478 on each transaction.

Regent Street, which has seen the open of a number of new flagships this year, saw the biggest sales leap with spending there up 36% year-on-year. But Oxford Street also got a boost with a 23% spending rise.

Bond Street, which is home to a much larger concentration of ultra-luxury stores, saw a rise of only 8.4% in July, however. That’s a healthy rise but still lags those of neighbouring thoroughfares. NWEC gave no explanation for this but it can’t be ignored that Regent Street’s regeneration, plus the luxury profiles of stores such as Selfridges and Liberty, and luxury store openings on other Mayfair streets have meant that shoppers no longer have to go to Bond Street to get their main luxury fix.

A change in Bond Street’s retail mix to more of the very highest-end brand also means that many of its stores are less likely to attract the aspirational shopper than the very wealthy.

Back with the figures, sales to Chinese shoppers rose 31% in July and this strength is expected to continue, with October set to benefit in particular. The country’s Golden Week holiday (starting October 2) is expected to bring an influx of Chinese visitors to the UK.   

But the Chinese weren’t on their own. Kuwaiti shoppers demonstrated the biggest increase in spend, up 64% on last July, and Indian visitors were also hitting the West End, with spend up 38%.

NWEC chief Jace Tyrrell said: “The West End prides itself on drawing visitors from all over the world and it’s reassuring to see that trend reflected in the summer sales figures.

“Demand is sure to continue throughout Golden Week, with visitors to Regent, Oxford and Bond Streets having a greater range of shops [as] 65 new stores have already opened on these three streets in 2017.”

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