West End expects £17m boost from Chinese New Year shoppers
Coronavirus may be causing some uncertainty around the Lunar New Year shopping event for Chinese travellers, but London’s West End is still expecting high spending from tourists.
On Friday, the body that represents businesses in the area, the New West End Company (NWEC), said Chinese customers are “set to bring a £17 million boost to [the] West End for New Year celebrations”. That forecast takes into account the dampening effect of the current coronavirus outbreak in China.
Artjom Hatsaturjants, Head of Insights at NWEC, said Chinese shoppers are the top international spending group in the area that contains high-end department stores, a raft of flagships for the world’s luxury brands and mainstream flagships too. And over the past year, their spending has increased by 5%. This has been driven in part by attractive prices in Britain due to the low pound.
NWEC is estimating that as well as that £17 million total, Chinese tourists will spend around £1,800 on average per transaction during the week ahead in the area.
So it’s no surprise that any non-Chinese visitors to the West End in the period will notice a distinctly Chinese focus in many stores with special product, and VM with a Year of the Rat theme.
“In response to demand, many businesses in the West End have implemented a range of services tailored to the Chinese shopper,” Hatsaturjants added. “For example, through introducing Chinese mobile payment solutions including AliPay and WeChat pay, having Chinese speakers in-store and offering tailored hospitality. These contribute to making the experience for Chinese visitors who are coming to West End as seamless as possible. London’s West End has also launched a dedicated WeChat Mini Programme to guide and inform Chinese visitors around the destination. This programme shares store guides, the history and heritage of the destination as well as travel advice and payment information”.
UK visitor visas issued in China have grown by 179% in recent years (up from 210,000 in 2012 to 583,000 in 2018) outstripping the Schengen growth of 123%.
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