Chinese New Year (16 February 2018) is the biggest event in the Chinese calendar, not just for Chinese nationals travelling abroad, but also for UK luxury retailers who can expect an influx of shoppers from this region.

According to data from Premier Tax Free, a leader in multi-currency digital payment processing, retail sales to Chinese tourists grew by 27 per cent in 2017, confirming this group as one of the most lucrative markets for UK retailers. During the 2017 Chinese New Year celebrations, sales to Chinese tourists grew by 93 per cent. These statistics far outstrip the UK’s domestic retail performance, with the average annual growth rate for retail sales reaching just 1.7 per cent.

This trend was across the UK with Birmingham, London and Bicester Village experiencing significant increases in sales to Chinese tourists during the Chinese New Year. Birmingham saw the strongest growth with an increase of 119 per cent sales, followed closely by London at 113 per cent and Bicester Village at 69 per cent. The nationwide appeal of the UK mean it is crucial merchants are using payment methods and marketing tools that are familiar to Chinese tourists.

For 2018, data from Forward Keys predicts an 8% growth in Chinese tourist arrivals to the UK for the New Year celebrations.

Patrick Waldron, CEO of Premier Tax Free, says: “Chinese New Year presents one of the biggest opportunities of the year for UK retailers. Our investment in partnerships with Ctrip, Alipay and WeChat, amongst others, makes tax free shopping easier and more customer-friendly and means merchants can capitalise on the influx of Chinese visitors to the UK.”

Waldron continues: “It’s great to see retailers from across all cities in the UK attracting more Chinese tourists to their stores, demonstrating our unique position as a destination with multiple luxury shopping locations. Events with international appeal, like the English Premier League, help attract foreign visitors while the introduction of new international routes from regional airports, like those between Beijing and Manchester, continues to expand tax free shopping outside of London.”

Josie Cartridge, Customer Director at River Island says: “Chinese New Year marks one of the peaks in footfall and spend from Chinese tourists in our stores. This provides a great opportunity for us to target the Chinese market and drive brand awareness and sales. To this end, we have been looking into new ways of engaging Chinese tourists across print and digital platforms to help attract more of these visitors into our stores and encourage them to shop Tax-Free with us. We are committed to catering to this market and ready to welcome tourists during Chinese New Year.”