Big spenders from the Middle East are set to increase their average summer spend by 25% in the coming few weeks, as the end of Ramadan and start of Eid Al Fitr sees tourists flock to the UK for designer bargains and tax free shopping.
Worldpay’s data shows that Middle Eastern visitors spent an average of £152.40 per transaction in August 2013, with visitors from Qatar topping the list by spending a whopping average of £288.17 on each trip to the till.
This was swiftly followed by £199.87 from Saudi Arabia, £188.29 from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and £189.41 from Bahrain. In comparison, the average European tourist, making up the bulk of visitors to the UK, spent just £49.00 per sale in the same period last year, whilst US visitors spent a slightly higher £65.41.
Retailers are the big winners and claimed around 69% of the total Middle Eastern spend in major department and clothing stores in August 2013. This represented a massive 88% increase in retail spend when compared to the previous month of July. The Eid effect is not just limited to London, as retailers in Scotland and the South West also enjoyed a lift.
The benefits that British business enjoys from tourists from the Middle East show no sign of stopping. The latest figures from Visit Britain shows the number of visitors from Gulf Cooperation Council countries from January to April this year was up 18% on the same period in 2013. Tourists from the UAE led the charge with 262,000 visitors in 2013, with Kuwait in second place with 110,000 visitors.
Dave Hobday, managing director, Worldpay UK, said: “Britain has some of the best shopping in the world and retailers need to wake up to the fact that the biggest spenders all come from abroad. There’s a Middle Eastern gold rush underway and millions of pounds are at stake as tourists from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE flock to the UK to out-shop and outspend the rest.
“The pressure’s on for UK retailers and it’s not enough just to deliver great service and hope for the best. Winning retailers must work harder than ever to make Middle Eastern shoppers welcome. High-end retailers and boutiques are now employing multi-lingual staff and giving shoppers the option to pay by card in their own currency. We’re on the eve of Eid and this spending frenzy is a gift retailers just can’t afford to miss.”
While some retailers offer tax free shopping to attract lucrative Middle Eastern shoppers, most are still not offering the full range of value added services such as myCurrency, a form of Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) which attracts both higher footfall and higher spend. DCC enhances the shopping experience by allowing international shoppers to pay in their local currency at the point of purchase.
Worldpay processed more than £73.2m in payments from Middle Eastern shoppers in August 2013.