Department stores cashed in by moving their summer Sales forward to benefit from the surge in Middle Eastern shoppers ahead of the Ramadan religious festival.
Figures from Global Blue, which operates tax-free shopping services, showed that Middle Eastern shoppers increased their spend by 51% year on year in June and July 2010, with the average transaction value up 58% to £1,348.
Harvey Nichols said like-for-like sales climbed 10% in June and Harrods said sales and margins came in ahead of targets. But Harvey Nichols chief executive Joseph Wan said he would not start the Sale any earlier next year, despite Ramadan falling even earlier in 2011.
“We moved our Sale more than a week earlier to June 16 [this year],” he said. “The result was not exciting in terms of bottom line profits. We cut the Sale short and had to mark things down [more].”
Harrods merchandise director Rupert Symes said the retailer would also not move its Sale any further forward next year.