Foreign visitors spent over £725 million** on British high-streets in December, as the weakened pound prompted an influx of bargain hunting ‘Brexit tourists’ to the UK over the Christmas period.
According to the latest transaction data from payments processor Worldpay, spending on foreign cards was up by a massive 22% year on year, in December, with total spend on non-UK cards over the month worth an extra £130 million to high street retailers compared to 2015.
High-end boutiques and department stores in London’s West End were among the biggest beneficiaries from tourist spend over the Christmas period, with foreign tourists shelling out an extra 35%* in these stores compared to the previous year. Duty Free shops in London’s Heathrow airport also saw similar gains from spending on foreign cards as visitors stocked up on last-minute items, ranging from perfume to electronics. Outside of London, retailers in Manchester and Edinburgh saw year on year spending by tourists rise by 19% and 24% respectively in December*.
James Frost, UK CMO, Worldpay, said: “Bricks and mortar retailers have not had things all their own way this Christmas, with the latest reports suggesting UK consumers are increasingly doing the bulk of their shopping online. So the influx of free-spending tourists we saw in December will have been a welcome boost for retailers looking to balance the books.”
Worldpay found visitors from Hong Kong were among the most eager bargain hunters, spending an extra 69%* in UK stores during December compared to 2015. Spending on Chinese cards was up by 24%*, while traditionally big-spending visitors from the UAE spent an extra 31%*. Meanwhile the amount spent by French and German tourists during the festive period was up by 14%*.
James Frost continued: “UK retail centres, including London’s West End, are a magnet for visitors from all over the world, made all the more attractive by the bargains on offer as a result of the weakened pound. High-street retailers must now seize the moment to consolidate their global standing by investing in technologies to help them deliver the quality, experience, choice and convenience which will keep tourists spending.”