Tax free shopping expert Global Blue forecasts that there will be a surge in Middle Eastern shoppers visiting the UK over the summer months, with an expected rise of 16% from July to September, continuing the strong trend. With approximately 37.8 million visitors throughout 2018, Global Blue’s forecast comes as the GCC markets look to make the most of the weak pound to purchase leading luxury British brands from their flagship stores.
The Middle East is the UK’s second-most valuable market, with Gulf Countries’ citizens accounting for more than a quarter of the total tax free shopping spend; with Qatar holding 8% of the total share, the UAE and Kuwait having 7% respectively and Saudi Arabia 6%. Latest insight from Global Blue reveals that visitors will look to spend, on average, over £1,000 during their time in the UK this summer, up 4% from 2018. Additionally, out of the six countries that form the GCC, Saudi Arabia has grown at the fastest pace with the number of transactions per visit up 28%, as the UK becomes their first choice destination.
The famous retail offering in the UK which is home to some of the most sought after luxury brands in the world proves to be the most common attraction for visitors from the Middle East. Further insight reveals that amongst the transactions, almost 2 in 5 visitors [38%] buy from British brands such as Burberry, Mulberry and department stores such as Harrods and Selfridges. Amongst the purchases, 50% are in the fashion and clothing sector as London continues to offer the latest trends, 17% for leather goods, 5% shoes and 4% jewellery. 2
With Ramadan falling two weeks earlier in 2019, Global Blue has recognised the increased drive in UK retail partners targeting the GCC as the post-Ramadan shopping period is extended over the summer months. Brands are pulling out all the stops to ensure they attract high spending shoppers from the Middle East. Retail flagships such as Harrods, Selfridges and Fenwick’s are increasingly offering exclusive deals, rewards and premium services targeting GCC visitors to guarantee spend.
Derrick Hardman, managing director of Global Blue UK & Ireland, said: “We have seen a huge increase in visitors from the Middle East this year and we expect to see the trend remain strong this summer as visitors look to make the most of the weak pound ahead of Brexit this October.”