London Fashion Week helped drive international shoppers to London this year as Middle Eastern shoppers generated the most tax free shopping sales in September for the third consecutive month.
According to tax free shopping operator Global Blue, 30% of all tax free sales in London came from Middle Eastern shoppers in September spending an average of £779 per transaction.
The shoppers from the region arrived in early July with their spending peaking in August with 38% of all tax free spending in the UK.
According to Global Blue Middle Easterners have traditionally returned home in August for Ramadan, however the younger generation have a preference for short stays and more regular visits throughout the year which can explain the increased spending.
Richard Brown, vice president UK of Global Blue, said: “The lure of London Fashion Week prompted a spending spree by international shoppers in the UK during September. In London alone, Middle Eastern shoppers contributed towards 30% of total tax free sales during the month of September and a surge in spend from Chinese shoppers prompted a significant 59% increase on total tax-free spend in August.”
He added: “We continually work with our retail partners in London to ensure they make the most of the arrival of the Middle Eastern shopper during the summer months, and are sensitive to their cultural codes including later opening times and female only staff serving Middle Eastern women.”
Simon Fowler, managing director, John Lewis Oxford Street, said: “During London Fashion Week 2011, John Lewis Oxford Street saw a 39% uplift in sales from international shoppers alone, with handbags proving to be one of the most popular items. We also saw a 28% increase in international shoppers when compared to the same time last year with customers from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE Nigeria and India among the top five countries accounting for this uplift in footfall.
Global Blue also found that Chinese spend also grew with 22% of all tax free sales in the UK and that accessories and jewellery were the most popular purchases.