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Tourist spending in UK shops falls for first time in five years

by International Commercial Investment on August 22, 2014

Source: The Telegraph

Spending by tourists in UK shops has fallen for the first time in five years as the Russian crisis and strong pound take their toll.

The number of visits by Russian shoppers and the amount they spend have been effected by the Ukraine crisis, with the political turmoil exacerbating a slowdown in the economy and helping the rouble to reach a record low.

Spending by global tourists fell by 4pc in the year, led by 20pc fall in Russian spending and a 27pc drop in spending by Thai consumers, who have also suffered from political unrest.

As well as the turmoil in Russia and Ukraine, the strengthening pound has made luxury goods more expensive to shoppers. Spending from American shoppers fell by 9pc, with Saudi spending falling 5pc and Nigerian 7pc.

The decline in global spending is the first since 2009. Britain had been enjoying a surge in retail sales from wealthy international tourists, according to Global Blue, which monitors tax-free spending around the world.

Gordon Clark, UK country manager of Global Blue, said: “Our figures show that political unrest and weakened home currencies are leaving shoppers from our top spending nations in a position where they are still spending more per transaction than before but are making less purchases than they would have made in the past.

“More than ever now British retailers and hotels need to review their international marketing plans, product range and staff training to ensure they still continue to secure this crucial international spend.”

The UK was not alone in suffering a fall in international spending, with Global Blue reporting a fall of 3pc across all leading tourism.

The biggest contributors to international spending in the UK are Chinese tourists, who account for 23pc of spending.

Although spending Chinese tourist continues to grow, it slowed from the growth of 20pc to 50pc that has been enjoyed in the last few years to 8pc in the first half of 2014.

International Commercial InvestmentTourist spending in UK shops falls for first time in five years