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West End retailers see boom in Thai and Malaysian shoppers

Thai and Malaysian shoppers are replacing China and the Middle East as the fastest markets for growth in London’s West End, with business from the two countries quadrupling last year.

Research from shopping tourism company Global Blue shows that Thai spending was up 51% year-on-year on Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street in 2013, spending £1,023 per transaction on average. Malaysian spend was up 40% year on year for the same period.

Regent Street proved the biggest draw for Malaysian shoppers, whose spend rose 93% on 2012. Regent Street also saw a large increase in footfall from American tourism last year. The US is now the fifth largest shopping nationality on the street, up 51%.

Despite this growth, China still remains the dominant international market for West End retailers. The country takes 20% of all long haul retail spend with an average £1,368 spent per transaction. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the next biggest spenders.  

Destinations such as Liberty have introduced a number of moves to increase tourist spending, including a dedicated Japanese desk and accepting multi-currency payments.

New West End Company chief executive Richard Dickinson said: “China is still very much the major international player […] and they remain a key target market for West End businesses. It is however very encouraging to see such convincing growth from the South East Asian territories, whose spending potential is huge.”

Separately, NWEC presented its 12 month plan for the shopping district to retailers today (April 29). As well as highlighting the vast opportunities brought about by Crossrail, chairman Sir Peter Rogers confirmed its plans to improve Bond Street’s public realm, saying “Bond Street needs to raise its game in terms of quality of streetscape to remain internationally competitive”. A consultation will be launched this summer.

At the same event, Conlumnio analyst Neil Saunders warned that consumer sentiment around the saturation of their wardrobes suggested people were far more likely to focus spend on food experiences than fashion.




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