The wave of Chinese visitors do a lot of shopping, as it is still so much cheaper. Prices of luxury goods can be up to 30-40%% higher in China because of import high tariffs and taxes.
A weak Pound makes the UK much more attractive for shoppers and tourists alike.
“Stores such as Burberry and Selfridges have employed Chinese speaking staff assistants to cater to the huge number of Chinese customers.
Shoppers from the Middle East account for 35% about of the luxury goods market in Britain, followed by Mainland China and Hong Kong 30% Russians25%, and Japanese 21%, with British shoppers making up only about 15% of the purchases.
It is easy to overstate the importance of tourists from China: in 2009 only 89,000 mainland visitors arrived in the UK, compared with 2.9 million US tourists. But Chinese numbers are climbing, while US arrivals are in decline. And the Chinese spent an average of £1,310, while their US counterparts spent £753. Luxury brands have done particularly well. Harrods recently reported that half of the crowds at the first day of its Christmas sale were Chinese.
The UK has become a destination of choice for Chinese tourists, whose favourite cities to visit are London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Oxford and Cambridge, official figures revealed.
The total number of visits to the UK by overseas residents rose from 29.6 million to 30.6 million, according to the (ONS).
Non-European and non-American visitor numbers increased by 12 per cent to 4.7 million – experts believe that this group consists mainly of visitors from China.
Earlier this year the ONS said that the number of Chinese people visiting the UK rose by 10 per cent to 141,000 between 2009 and 2010. Over the same period the amount of money they spent increased by almost a third to £249 million.
When Selfridges opened on Boxing Day, it promptly clocked up the most lucrative hour in the store’s entire history (£1.3 million in 60 minutes).
Over at Harrods, the average spend is even greater. Earlier this year, using data from VAT reclaims, the store revealed that its average Chinese customer spends an astonishing £3,500 per visit. And many shoppers will make many visits.