French burka ban helps London to cash in on overseas shoppers

London stores are benefiting from a backlash to the Paris burka ban, as Middle Eastern shoppers choose to shop in the "more welcoming" capital.

Liberty and Selfridges have this year seen the number of international visitors increase by 45 per cent and 40 per cent respectively, compared with last year, with numbers expected to rise 15 per cent across the West End as a whole.

Anyone wearing a face-covering veil in France faces a €150 fine, after President Nicolas Sarkozy declared that the burka was "not welcome" there.

Jace Tyrell, director of the New West End Company, said the Middle Eastern market, in particular the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, was "absolutely critical" to the West End.

"When I was in the region in April, it was clear from feedback from the travel trade that what had happened in Paris was having an effect. London is seen as welcoming, friendly and accommodating," he said.

Middle Eastern shoppers spent on average £1,800 per shopping trip, compared with £120 by UK shoppers. The last two weeks of July, during the pre-Ramadam period, is the busiest time for visitors from these regions, with sales expected to exceed £200m.

Neil Cook, managing editor of the Gulf Times, based in Qatar, said: "There is some kind of backlash against the [burka] ban; people are more comfortable with London. Also, many people who would go to Beirut, Syria and other north African destinations are not choosing to travel there at the moment [because of recent unrest]. "

Harrods said: "Purchases from overseas shoppers represent a significant, growing proportion of Harrods sales. The fine jewellery, accessories, beauty and fragrance departments have seen the most notable impact."

Kate Brindley, of Liberty, said: "There has been a massive increase in shoppers from both the Middle East and China. This is partly because of pre-Olympics publicity for London, and also the weaker pound."

Selfridges has even brought its Christmas shop opening forward to July, to capitalise on the increase in tourists.

Nigel Wheatley, head of retail and marketing at Hamleys toy store, said there had been a "significant increase" in footfall in recent weeks. "We expect to see this rise continue as people are talking about London a lot more in the run up to the Olympics."

Myf Ryan, at Westfield, said: "We have seen an increased number of visitors from the Middle East at the high-end luxury shops. We also have a lot of visitors from China, Nigeria and America."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine