Luxury stores ready to reap Peking pound as China eases travel restrictions for New Year
Influx: Chinese shoppers, such as Melody Wang and her friend Doreen Nie, are set to descend on luxury stores today as thousands travel to the UK to celebrate Chinese New Year
Luxury stores are preparing for thousands of wealthy Far Eastern shoppers to coincide with the start of the Chinese Year of the Dragon.
The easing of travel restrictions in China means the turn of the year has become a time for international travel and shopping for the country’s elite.
They will be looking for British brands such as Burberry and Mulberry, and international brands such as Prada and Gucci.
Spending by Chinese tourists in UK stores rose by 64 per cent last year, say retail analysts Global Blue, and totalled 165million.
Bond Street shops have hired Mandarin-speaking staff while Harrods has installed 75 tills for Chinese shoppers and the UnionPay card, which is China’s only domestic debit and credit card.
And yesterday, the store unveiled commemorative investment gold bars,
each incorporating an Oriental Dragon, in a bid to appeal to the
Richard Brown of Global Blue said: ‘Chinese New Year reflects an important cultural shift in China with families now travelling abroad as an alternative to celebrations at home.’
Special measures: Harrods has installed 75 tills specifically for Chinese shoppers and made measures to accept the Union Pay card ahead of the rush
‘Retailers are bracing themselves for a significant uplift in Chinese shoppers and hope to repeat staggering growth.
‘Luxury brands are set to benefit the most from this uplift, with Chinese shoppers spending on average 729 per tax free transaction favouring handbags, jewellery and watches.’
Big money: The Burberry store in London takes half of all its sales from Chinese shoppers
Mark Di-Toro, from VisitBritain, said: ‘The first half of 2011 witnessed a record high in outbound tourism from China. The UK is already benefitting from these high spending visitors who are coming to Britain to shop in their droves.
‘In the West End, Chinese shoppers are reported to spend an average 1,310 during a trip with half of Burberry’s sales in London coming courtesy of Chinese tourists.’
Burberry benefits from the fact that the Duchess of Cambridge has been seen wearing a number of the brand’s trademark coats.
Gordon Innes, chief executive of London & Partners, the capital’s official promotional organisation, said: ‘With its large population, strong economic growth and growing social mobility, China is viewed as a lucrative tourism prospect.
‘In the year ending September 2011 visitor arrivals increased by about 40per cent with the average stay length among Chinese visitors twice the average of all overseas tourist – making them prodigious spenders.’