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?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police