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Tourist Spending in U.K. Slows

Chinese, Russian shoppers tightened purse strings in May.

LONDON — Russian and Chinese tourists visiting the U.K. put the brakes on spending in the month of May, according to the latest statistics from Global Blue.

 

Across the country, in-store sales by tourists were down 15 percent during the month, while the average spend dipped 1.2 percent to 605 pounds, or $1,026.

 

Last month, the Chinese generated 19 percent of all in-store sales. That was 8 percent lower than the previous year, while their average spend fell 4.2 percent to 773 pounds, or $1,310.

 

Russian tourists, meanwhile, continue to shun the U.K.: They represented 5 percent of total in-store sales in the region, a fall of 42 percent on the previous year. Their average in-store spend, however, rose 3.7 percent to 648 pounds, or $1,100.

 

American shoppers also lost their appetite for spending in the month: They represented 4 percent of all in-store sales, down 17 percent on last year. Their average spend also dipped 1.9 percent to 569 pounds, or $965.

 

Barclays issued a report based on the worldwide Global Blue numbers, saying that tourism spending saw a further deterioration in May, down 5.3 percent year-on-year, following a flat performance in April.

 

Worldwide, the bank said that Russian spending continued to decline in the double digits — or 18.9 percent year-on-year in May — due to the geopolitical tensions and the weak ruble. The bank also noted a slowdown in Chinese spending across product categories, “albeit in a relatively quiet month ahead of the peak traveling season.”

 

Worldwide, Chinese tourism spend showed 1.8 percent growth in May compared to 25 percent growth in April, and in the first quarter, the bank said.

 

Barclays said tourism spending in fashion and clothing category was down 6.1 percent, leather goods and bags fell 4.9 percent, while watches and jewelry was down 8.7 percent in the period.