The biggest spenders have been those coming from the UAE and China. They each have an average spend per transaction of over £1,000 (US$1,600). The fact that China is now the largest consumer market of luxury products globally, with an increasing proportion of this spend taking place overseas, means that they are an attractive target consumer group – particularly for luxury brands.
At present Chinese tourists account for only a small proportion of total overseas spend in the UK. According to official data from the ONS 233,000 mainland Chinese tourists came to the UK last year with a total spend of £559m. This represents only 2.6% of total overseas spend.
In contrast France attracted over 1 million Chinese visitors. The difficulties experienced by Chinese visitors in obtaining visas has been cited as an issue contributing to these lower visitor numbers. Improvements to the visa application process, introduced last year, are expected to improve these numbers.
VisitBritain is hoping it will help to attract 650,000 Chinese visitors by 2020, with spending power of almost £1.1bn (US$1.7bn).
London’s position as one of the largest city markets for international tourists, and the potential upswing in Chinese visitor numbers, has attracted increasing numbers of international brands.
Since 2012, 98 international brands have opened their first UK store in London with another 11 expected by the end of the year.
The majority of these new entrants have come from Europe (64%), with another 25% originating from North America are now also, largely reflecting the existing international mix of retailers on London’s key shopping streets.
However, retailers from Asia Pacific and South America have established a presence in London, reflecting the increasing globalisation of London’s retail landscape and its visitor profile. This influx of new retailer entrants, combined with availability constraints on the traditional key pitches, have helped to open up new retail ‘destinations’ within London.
Figure 19 details the retail areas where these 98 new entrants have located since 2012. Historically, any new retail brands to London would have tended to concentrate within a relatively narrow selection of pitches. The scale of new entrants and existing demand, combined with improvements and enhanced ‘curation’ by a number of existing and emerging landed Estates within Central London has widened the variety of retail ‘destinations’ available to both occupiers and shoppers.