Weak pound draws tourists to London's Westfield centres

Helen Cahill
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Westfield shopping centre at night
Chinese tourists have been particularly keen on designer bags (Source: Westfield)

Westfield shopping centres have been inundated with Chinese customers bulk buying Burberry handbags on the back of the weak pound.

In July, Chinese spend in Westfield Stratford jumped 116 per cent year on year. Chinese spend in Westfield London, White City, increased by 16 per cent.

Read more: Westfield Stratford set for more visitors in 2016 than in Olympics year

Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Burberry stores were doing particularly well due to the fall in the value of the pound, Westfield said, with handbags and accessories proving to be the most popular items. The number of items Chinese tourists are buying with each shop has doubled this year.

Myf Ryan, Westfield’s chief marketing officer for UK and Europe, said: “International markets continue to be one of Westfield London’s most important, with sales from Middle Eastern and Asian regions continuously growing.

“The complete offer of designer and high street retail ensures Westfield centres are popular tourist destinations.”

The West End has also benefited from a Brexit boost. Tourists taking advantage of the weak currency are set to push retail sales in London’s central shopping district over £9bn this year.

Read more: West End gets Brexit boost as sales to tip over £9bn for the first time

Businesses will need to make the most of the good summer trading. London’s retailers face significant headwinds in the coming months due to the re-evaluation of business rates.

The re-evaluation is based on the rental value of a commercial property. Due to the rise in property values in London since the last rate evaluation, some businesses could be facing a tax hike of 80 per cent. Lobby groups are pressing for transitional relief so the increases are phased in over time. Businesses will find out what the extra tax burden will be this Friday, when the result of the re-evaluations is published.

Lobby groups have also been pressing for a better appeals system, having written to communities secretary this week saying that if the current draft legislation is approved, it could force some businesses into administration.

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