Shopping tourists fuel record retail sales

 

Rising numbers of Chinese, Saudi and Brazilian retail tourists seeking heavily discounted, tax-free luxuries have contributed to soaring Boxing Day sales figures in London's West End.

Chinese shoppers were out in force among the estimated 700,000 people converging on the West End in search of discounts of up to 75 per cent, with many among the queue that began forming outside Selfridges in Oxford Street from 10.30pm on Christmas Day. Chinese shoppers spent an average of £1,310 per sale, compared with £120 per British shopper, according to Jace Tyrrell, a spokesman for the New West End Company, which represents the area's retailers.

He said China, with its increasingly affluent middle class and a currency that has just hit a record high, was the fastest-growing international market for the precinct's retailers, having doubled in size over the past three years to be worth £140m last year.

"It's very important for us because they're luxury shoppers and they spend on high-priced items," he said. "Luxury goods are about 30 per cent cheaper here because there's a very high tax on such goods in China. And we know anecdotally there's a desire to buy British and European luxury goods where they are made, because they're genuine artefacts."

Niravta Patel, a spokeswoman for Selfridges, said sales to Chinese customers at the department store, which employs Mandarin-speaking staff, had increased 60 per cent on last year. They included Chinese celebrities such as the actress Li Bingbing, spotted purchasing several British fashion brands.

Ms Patel said international trade at Selfridges was up by more than 40 per cent from last year, with sales to Middle Eastern customers doubling, contributing to a record first hour of trade. More than 2,000 people were queuing to enter the store when it opened at 9am, with the most expensive purchase, a Chopard diamond necklace reduced to £8,469 from £18,820, being made by an international customer.

Mr Tyrrell said throughout the year 37 per cent of shoppers in the West End were international tourists, a higher proportion than anywhere else in Europe.

The influx of tourist shoppers may have helped some retailers to make record sales on Boxing Day. Despite the effects of the Tube drivers' strike over a pay dispute, West End traders said they had taken £15m in the first three hours of the sales. Selfridges confirmed that it had beaten Boxing Day records set in 2009 – with trade up by 15 per cent on the same day two years ago.

Sue West, Selfridges' director of operations, said ladies' accessories and jewellery were the main attractions .

How one chain ensured the longest queues

As bargain hunters flocked to the shops, many of the biggest queues were for fashion outlets, with Next generating a frenzy by offering all items at half price or less and opening at 6am.

At Birmingham's Bullring centre, queues began forming at 2am, with 2,500 people eventually getting in line for Next to begin trading, and a further 1,000 gathering outside Selfridges. More than 1,000 queued at the Next outlet at Sheffield's Meadowhall, while in Leeds, the lines outside Next began forming at 1.30am.

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 celebration of British elections
  • 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: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before