Americans bring Thanksgiving to UK retailers as spending soars

Kasmira Jefford
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London's Department Stores And Their Christmas Windows
International tourists come to Harrods and other iconic UK stores to shop (Source: Getty)

Black Friday’s online bargain frenzy may have dampened sales on the high street. But international shoppers helped to keep tills ringing, with spending up by 10 per cent in the year to November.

The biggest jump in spending came from US tourists, up 55 per cent, despite still accounting for just five per cent of sales from international shoppers. Their receipts came to £658 each, up from £607 in November last year, according to research from tax-free shopping experts Global Blue.

Tourists from the Middle East were the biggest spenders overall, accounting for nearly a third (30 per cent) of receipts, with spending up 22 per cent. They bought an average of £957 goods each, up five per cent from £913 in November last year.

Chinese shoppers followed, splashing out 22 per cent more than last year. They spent an average £700 each, and accounted for 22 per cent of spending.

“The festive season is an increasingly important time in the UK retail calendar and whilst not all global shoppers celebrate Christmas, luxury accessories and fashion still top the shopping lists,” Global Blue’s head of commercial UK and Ireland, Gordon Clark, said.

“The Boxing Day sales are a significant draw, and with figures for December 2014 showing 11 per cent year-on-year growth, we expect them to contribute greatly to international spend again this year,” he added.

The strong figures for November, however, come after a relatively subdued year, with international spending growth amount to just three per cent in the year to October.

Political and economic issues hit consumer confidence among several traditionally strong spending nations, with Russia down 41 per cent in the year to October and 33 per cent in November.

Despite a pick-up in November, Chinese spending rose just three per cent in the year up to October following the market turmoil this summer, bringing five years of strong shopping growth to a halt.

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