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Thai tourist spending matches Chinese in UK

December 19, 2013 (United Kingdom)

Global Blue, the international retail tourism experts, report that total international tax free spend has surged up 21% to date this year with globe shoppers from South East Asian driving the growth. Thai spend in particular is up a massive 48% YTD.

Chinese globe shoppers are still the number one tourist market in terms of sales for the UK however this year Global Blue have seen Thai globe shoppers increase their average transaction value by 19% to reach £742 which now matches that of the Chinese. The figures give evidence that the UK this year has not felt the effects of the reported downturn in spend by Chinese globe shoppers on luxury goods, as spend has rocketed 33% this year.

Gordon Clark, UK Country Manager of Global Blue, comments:  “Though China still represents a fifth of all tax free spend across the UK, the desire for luxury goods is rippling to other Asian nations like Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. It is now more important than ever for luxury brands to tailor their service to their ever discerning international customer base from flagships on Oxford Street through to luxury boutiques in Edinburgh.”

According to Global Blue, the UK is the third most popular tax free shopping destination this year. The festive season is an important time in the UK retail calendar and whilst not all globe shoppers celebrate Christmas, luxury accessories and fashion still top the wish list and Boxing Day sales are increasingly popular. Retailers across the UK have been working up to this period, pulling out all the stops to draw in these high net worth individuals.

Global Blue have seen a rise in demand for brands to introduce tax free shopping, pre-travel marketing, and cultural training particularly as well as investing in multi-lingual shop assistants and the most unique items money can buy to entice globe shoppers.

Kevin Boltman, Managing Director for Montblanc UK comments: “All Montblanc boutiques have at least one foreign-speaking staff to assist tourist shoppers and accept China Union Pay, China's only domestic debit card and credit card.

"The Chinese are the top-spending international visitors with the highest average spend upon a store visit, according to Global Blue tax refund data analysis, favouring jewellery and watches. We have seen a growing influx of high-spending foreign tourists throughout the year, but the holiday season generally sees an uplift as it coincides with the start of the Chinese New Year.”

A key incentive for international shoppers is the ‘new’, ‘exclusive’ and ‘spectacular’. Many luxury retailers specially order never-before-seen product and now offer bespoke services particularly for these customers around key holiday periods.

Mark Henderson, Chairman of the London Luxury Quarter comments:  “International shoppers are hugely important and we aim to accommodate their needs in every aspect possible.  Over half of stores in LLQ have mandarin speaking staff and 90% of stores offer the option for private shopping after store opening hours.


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