Hey big spender: Shopping tourists visiting UK spend 80% more

By Emma Eversham contact

- Last updated on GMT

International tourists who visit the UK primarily to shop spend an average of £325 more during their stay than non-shopping tourists
International tourists who visit the UK primarily to shop spend an average of £325 more during their stay than non-shopping tourists

Related tags: Average spend, Middle east, Southeast asia

International tourists who visit the UK primarily to shop spend 80 per cent more during their stay than those visiting for other reasons, according to research by VisitBritain. 

The average spend of shopping tourists is £739 per trip, compared to £414 for non-shoppers, revealing how lucrative it is for the economy.  

Last year 22 million people visited the UK and indulged in retail therapy, spending an estimated £5.5bn.

Patricia Yates, director of strategy & communications at VisitBritain, said while the majority of the money spent by shopping tourists was in the retail sector, they were happy to splurge elsewhere during their stay. 

“Retail therapy is one of the great relaxing pursuits for international holiday visitors to the UK – with 80 per cent going shopping. And, average spend for people who come to the UK primarily to shop is £346 a night, a huge lift on the average spend of £83," she said.

"Inbound tourism is Britain’s third biggest service export and supports sectors such as retail as well as hotels and attractions.” 

Shopping tourist trends

VisitBritain's report Types of Shops Visited by Overseas Visitors found that female tourists are most likely to shop during their visit with 77 per cent of women hitting the shops compared to 54 per cent of men. 

Young visitors of both genders also like to shop with 85 per cent of under-16s and 77 per cent of 16-24 year-olds spending their cash on the high street and in gift and boutique shops. 

The French are the nation most likely to shop in the UK, followed by the USA and Germany. However, it is visitors from the Gulf who are the highest spenders, shelling out £2,372 on average during each trip. 

Jace Tyrrell, deputy CEO, New West End Company, said: “International visitors are increasingly important for London’s West End. The Middle East and China remain the top spending nations in the West End, with the latter spending over £1,400 on average, but the appeal of shopping for designer fashion and accessories in London has also rippled out across South East Asia and we saw huge growth from Thailand and Malaysia last year."

The popularity of shopping trips has been recognised by the hospitality sector with a number of hotels in major cities adding shopping packages to their offering to capitalise on the growing trend.

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