Middle Eastern visitors boost London’s retail recovery

Ralph Lauren, flagship, London

New West End Company, which represents retailers in London’s most famous shopping streets – Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street reports that Middle Eastern shoppers are set to spend more than £210million in the West End in 2011 with average spending to increase by 3.5%. To capture this ever growing trend of global retail tourism from the Middle East, London Luxury launches the London High Life package of bespoke shop and stay experience exclusively at the 2011 Arabian Travel Market.

According to the annual GlobeShopper Calendar, developed by New West End Company and Global Blue, leading experts in global shopping and spending, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are expected to be among the most significant inbound shopper markets for London’s West End in 2011, with emerging retail tourists from Kuwait also boosting retail sales.

The Middle East is one of London’s highest spending visitor markets which has grown over 20% in the last five years.  This summer in the Pre-Ramadan period over £210m will be spent in London’s Luxury Quarter of Bond Street and Mayfair by visitors from UAE, Iran, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

London Luxury, an initiative of New West End Company will today launch ‘London High Life’ exclusively at the 2011 Arabian Travel Market in Dubai. London Luxury is a new initiative in high net worth global shopper tourism to capitlalise on the growing trend of shopping tourism. It offers a programme of bespoke personalised shopping tours and unique shop and stay packaged with London’s most discerning hotels, retailers and restaurants.

Jace Tyrrell, Director of New West End Company said, “International shoppers are key to the ongoing West End retail recovery and success of London’s economy. Spending over £1,200 each on average compared to a UK shopper of £120, the Middle East and in particular visitors from the United Arab Emirates are one of our most important inbound shopper markets. It is encouraging that numbers of international shoppers are set to grow by around 15% this year.”

“We have spent the last two years researching our key markets including the Middle Eastern visitor, understanding their stimulus to travel, shopping intentions and retail and leisure preferences from high street and luxury retail brands, hotels and cultural attractions.” adds Tyrrell.

Nigel Dasler, Vice President of Sales at Global Blue, the market leader in tax free shopping, says, “Evidence so far this year suggests Middle East shoppers will continue to make up the biggest market share of international visitors in spending terms, buying almost exclusively luxury goods and staying in the best hotels London’s West End has to offer.

Alongside the marketing campaign, New West End Company is lobbying UK government departments to simplify the visa process for long haul visitors.  Reducing the cost and complexity of applying for a travel visa will make the UK more competitive with other European markets.

Top four Middle Eastern markets by £ spend: United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Iran  

Luxury London hotel partners include; Brown’s Hotel, Claridge’s, The Connaught, Grosvenor House, The Langham London, The Metropolitan, The Ritz London, The May Fair and the Westbury supported by a host of privileges and tours from the most stylish and luxurious retailers and restaurants including Asprey, Harry Winston, Gieves & Hawes, Selfridges, Polo Ralph Lauren, Fortnum & Mason, Burlington Arcade, Stephen Webster, Liberty of London and Smythson.