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Overseas shoppers boost West End retail

London’s West End retailers will see an additional £2bn going through their tills in 2011 due to increased spending from overseas shoppers.

Foreign shoppers spending the most money come from China, Russia and the United Arab Emirates, with visitors from Kuwait and Nigeria also expected to increase their expenditure.

According to the GlobeShopper Calendar survey by Global Blue, Saudi Arabian tourists are the biggest spenders per visit and spend an average of £1,974. Tourists from Kuwait follow next spending an average of £1,780, followed by Nigerians spending £1,648 per visit. Shoppers from China, Japan, UAE and Thailand follow shortly behind.

Richard Dickinson, chief executive of the New West End Company, said: “Tourism is a key growth sector that can help drive the UK economy into better times.”

He added: “We are encouraged by Global Blue’s predictions that the Chinese market will continue to deliver for the West End in 2011 but Chinese Tour Operators tell us that the current visa arrangements for Chinese shoppers entering Britain do restrict visit numbers considerably.”

In February iconic department store Harrods announced it would accept domestic Chinese debit and credit card UnionPay because of the growing importance of Chinese shoppers’ spending power to the luxury retail sector.

Additionally like-for-like spending by Thai and Singaporean visitors to the UK doubled in January, with sales increasing by 94% and 112% respectively. Shoppers from Malaysia and Hong Kong also flocked to spend money on the UK high street.

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