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Far Eastern shopping spend rockets in January

Like for like spending by Thai and Singaporean visitors to the UK doubled in January, as South East Asian shoppers flocked to the UK to cash in on the favourable exchange rate.

Sales in stores from Singaporean shoppers increased by 112% year-on-year, with Thai shoppers spending 94% more than they did a year ago according to tax free shopping operator Global Blue.

Malaysian sales matched Chinese growth at 89% and Hong Kong shopping sales increased by 81%.

The average number of transactions from shoppers from these countries also increased in January, with Singapore up by 80%, Thailand up by 78%, Malaysia up by 66% and Hong Kong up by 57%.

Chinese shoppers have continued to be key to the UK retail market and average Chinese shopper spend was up 18% in January with a 60% increase in transactions year-on-year.

Last week iconic department store Harrods announced it would accept domestic Chinese debit and credit card UnionPay in a signal of the growing importance of Chinese shoppers’ spending power to the luxury retail sector.

Global Blue’s UK vice president Nigel Dasler said: “As the Chinese economy booms and drives growth across South East Asia, UK retailers are becoming savvier when it comes to attracting this highly valuable market.

“Retailers are going out of their way to entice Far Eastern shoppers over to our high streets. Iconic high street stores have also introduced initiatives such as Mandarin speaking shop assistants and are now starting to accept Union Pay in a bid to make the shopping experience increasingly more attractive. We expect this market to continue its significant expansion far into 2011.”

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