LONDON — Shops in the UK are awash with Qatari money, according to Global Blue, which said consumers from the Persian Gulf state notched “an astonishingly high” average spend of 1,643 pounds per transaction, or $2,570 at current exchange, in the month of November. That spend is nearly 40 percent higher than any other nation during that period.
Global Blue, which introduced Tax Free Shopping and offers services to retailers and traveling shoppers, plans to publish its findings on Thursday.
The report said Qatar is the only nation to post double-digit growth for the month of November — 10 percent year-on-year — with the average spend per transaction 34 percent higher compared with last year. “It has set its place as the leader of international spend growth for the season,” the report said.
Gordon Clark, UK country manager at Global Blue, said: “While these shoppers do not celebrate Christmas, luxury accessories and fashion still top shopping lists, and they are drawn by the exclusive ranges retailers offer for the season. Tax free shopping, more than ever, has become an integral part of the Christmas strategy for retailers.”
As reported, international spend has been down across the board this year following the weakening economies of big spending nations such as Russia and Thailand. The strong pound has also dented shoppers’ appetite for purchasing in the UK.
Global Blue pointed out that even the biggest markets have slowed, with China seeing growth of just 5 percent, Kuwait 6 percent, and Saudi Arabia 9 percent year-on-yearto date in the UK.
“Retailers are hoping that the Christmas rush will recover growth for the year, particularly across luxury stores in areas such as London’s Bond Street, where average transaction values are significantly higher than the rest of the UK, thanks to the draw of global powerhouse and British heritage designer brands,” said Global Blue.
As reported earlier this week, Harvey Nichols will open a branch in Doha, Qatar in the first quarter of 2017.
The store called Qatar “a highly attractive market” given it has one of the world’s highest levels of disposable income. The GDP per capita – $100,000 — in Qatar is ranked number one globally, and the state — rich in natural gas — is forecast to be one of the world’s fastest growing luxury markets.
Qataris are the biggest buyers of luxury goods in the Middle East, according to Harvey Nichols.