Gulf tourist spend to surge in UK, will boost Brit brands like Burberry
Middle Eastern tourists are expected to boost UK luxury retail this summer with a particular interest in British brands. That’s according to tax-free payments facilitator Global Blue, which predicted a 16% rise in transactions by visitors from the Gulf countries (GCC).
That forecast came after the last three months saw transactions by visitors from those states increasing 17%, boosted by their own currencies getting stronger as the pound weakened.
The 16% increase is expected between July and September and follows a strong 2018 with nearly 40 million GCC visitors to the UK.
That’s important as the Middle East is the UK's second most valuable market, with GCC citizens accounting for more than a quarter of the total tax-free shopping spend in Britain.
By country, Qatar holds 8% of the total share, the UAE and Kuwait 7% each respectively, and Saudi Arabia 6%.
Global Blue said visitors will look to spend, on average, over £1,000 during their time in the UK this summer, up 4% from 2018. Additionally, out of the six countries that form the GCC, Saudi Arabia has grown at the fastest pace with the number of transactions per visit up 28%, as the UK becomes their first-choice destination.
The firm’s data also showed that among the transactions, 38% of visitors buy from British brands such as Burberry and Mulberry and from department stores such as Harrods and Selfridges. Among the purchases, 50% are in the fashion and clothing sector, 17% for leathergoods, 5% shoes and 4% jewellery.
With Ramadan having fallen two weeks earlier in 2019, Global Blue also highlighted the increased drive among its UK retail partners targeting the GCC with the post-Ramadan shopping period being extended over the summer months. Brands have been “pulling out all the stops to ensure they attract high spending shoppers from the Middle East," it said. "Retail flagships such as Harrods, Selfridges and Fenwick are increasingly offering exclusive deals, rewards and premium services targeting GCC visitors to guarantee spend.”
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