Chinese holidaymakers lead the charge over Christmas

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Wealthy foreign visitors helped keep Britain’s tills ringing over Christmas with spending up a record 40 per cent on the previous year.

Chinese tourists led the charge, with spending up 52 per cent to around £741 per transaction in December, according to figures out today by tax-free shopping specialist Global Blue.

While China accounted for the highest proportion of international spend at 23 per cent, Middle Eastern shoppers were the highest spenders, with shoppers from Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia splurging an average of £1165, £1150 and £1037 respectively.

But there were also some unexpected increases in spending. Russia became the second biggest shopping nation accounting for seven per cent of total tax-free spend, more than any Middle Eastern nation, with sales up 30 per cent for the month.

Malaysia also outstripped Thailand to be the biggest growth market, with spend up 73 per cent.

Retail analyst Nick Bubb, said: “The average UK consumer is still feeling squeezed, hence the weak Christmas trading reported by some of the big retail chains, but premium retailers in London clearly enjoyed the benefit of many wealthy and free-spending International visitors last month.”

Global Blue’s Gordon Clark said: “Pre-travel marketing, cultural training and multilingual staff in store are all increasing the appeal to globe shoppers and have led to record breaking sales growth, and discounted fares and new flight routes such as the new British Airways route from Chengdu have facilitated their journeys.”