The survey shows that tourists from the Middle East are twice as likely as typical visitors to buy clothes and shoes. Kuwaiti visitors rank number one in terms of spending on shopping in the UK, followed by Nigerians in second place and Saudi Arabians in third place. A visitor from Kuwait on average delivers £4,000 to the UK economy, whereas a visitor from France delivers an average of £343 to the UK economy.
According to Global Blue, which tracks spending by overseas visitors, the lead-up to Ramadan is traditionally a key holiday period for luxury retailers and hotels as tourists from the Middle East come to the UK for their annual spending spree, escaping soaring temperatures at home. As a result of which London witnessed an increase in visitors from the Middle East, just before Ramadan this year.
According to Global Blue, wealthy Middle Eastern shoppers favour luxury brands, with more than half claiming shopping to be their favourite activity when visiting the UK. This is evident from the fact that the average transaction value of Middle Eastern shoppers in 2013 was £795.
The high spending of Middle Eastern shoppers has influenced the UK luxury retailers also, with some luxury retailers, including Smythson and Temperley, offering special experiences and bespoke products designed for Middle Eastern shoppers this year.
The pre-Ramadan influx of Middle Eastern visitors has also changed the way that luxury stores do business. With Ramadan starting earlier, luxury stores now tend to start their summer discounting earlier, and opt for short, sharp, sales periods, so that new season styles are in stores when visitors from the Middle East arrive.
Even though Middle Eastern visitors spend the most when it comes to cutting edge fashion, Visit Britain found out that they don’t spend much on British food and drink.
When it comes to spending on British food and drinks; 34% of Belgians, 32% of French and 32% of Japanese visitors are most likely to buy British food and drink to take home.
In 2012 alone, international visitors spent £4.5bn in British shops, which was a quarter of total expenditure by foreign tourists that year.