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UK retailers counting on Golden Week boost

By ANGUS McNEICE | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-10-02 16:05

UK retailers counting on Golden Week boost

Chinese tourists visit London's Piccadilly Circus. [Photo/China Daily]

British retailers are expecting an influx of Chinese holidaymakers during the weeklong Chinese National Day holiday known as Golden Week.

The public holiday, which runs from Oct 1 to Oct 8, is a time when many Chinese people travel abroad for a vacation and new flight and sales data suggest retailers in London can expect an even busier time than they experienced last year.

Flight monitoring company ForwardKeys said flight bookings from China to the United Kingdom for the three months from September to November are 10 percent up on the same period last year.

Sales to Chinese shoppers in London's West End, an area that includes the popular shopping destinations of Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street, were up 31 percent in July compared to last year, according to data released on Friday by shopping tax refund company Global Blue. Spending by Chinese visitors averaged 1,478 pounds ($1,980) per shopper.

Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of New West End Company, which works with London retailers, expects this upward trend to continue.

"Demand is sure to continue throughout Golden Week, with visitors to Regent, Oxford and Bond Streets having a greater range of shops than ever before. Sixty-five new stores have already opened on these three streets in 2017," Tyrrell said.

London's retail areas benefited from a huge spike in Chinese shoppers during Golden Week last October, with sales to Chinese tourists in the West End up 307 percent in comparison to the same period in 2015.

Fewer Chinese tourists travelled abroad in late 2015 at a time when China experienced stock market turbulence. The UK then became a popular destination in the second half of 2016, due to the depreciation of the pound following the referendum decision for Britain to leave the European Union.

Exchange rates have remained favorable for Chinese travelers. In August this year, Britain was about 12 percent more affordable for visitors from China than it was during the same month in 2015.

Visitors from China spent, on average, almost 2,000 pounds per visit in Britain in 2016, more than three times the all-market average, according to UK tourism authority VisitBritain.

The latest statistics from VisitBritain show there was a record number of visits from China to the UK in the first quarter of 2017. From January to March, there were 54,000 visits, up 27 percent on the same period last year, with visitors spending a record 91 million pounds, also up 27 percent.

VisitBritain Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said: "We want Britain to top the list as a must-go-now destination for Chinese travelers, and to give them a world-class visitor experience."

In November, VisitBritain will lead a travel trade mission to Guangzhou city in South China. The Destination Britain China delegation will comprise 65 UK tourism companies that will meet with Chinese travel agents.

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