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International spend to soar over Christmas

Chinese and Middle Eastern shoppers are set to lead international spend in the UK over the festive season, with London and Manchester to benefit the most.

Global Blue is predicting that the final quarter of 2014 will boost what has been a slower year in terms of international spend in the UK.

Retailers have seen a 26% fall in Russian spend in the year to date amid political unrest in Ukraine. Weakening currencies have also seen growth from Thailand and other South East Asian nations suffer, with Thai spend also down 26% compared to the same period the year before.

However, spend is expected to pick up during the festive season. According to VisitBritain, the fourth quarter in 2013 saw spend by Chinese shoppers soar 26% year-on-year and Middle Eastern nations Kuwait and UAE saw spend up 30% and 44% respectively compared to 2012, as shoppers flocked to buy British gifts for family and friends.

Gordon Clark, UK country manager of Global Blue, said: “Political turmoil and weakened currencies have left shoppers from some nations, particularly Thailand and Russia, less likely to spend in the UK this year, so retailers are focusing their services on targeting the traditional Chinese and Middle Eastern markets who have continued to contribute most significantly to sales. Tax free shopping, more than ever, has become an integral part of the Christmas strategy for retailers.”

For the year to October 31, 2014, China represented 25% of total international spend in the UK - a 5% increase on 2013 - followed by Kuwait (8%), Saudi Arabia (7%) and Qatar (6%).

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