BREXIT BOUNCE: The U.K. witnessed a 7 percent increase in spending by tourists in the weeks immediately following the country’s vote to quit the European Union, Global Blue said Monday.
Global Blue, a company that facilitates international, tax-free shopping by tourists, said the weaker pound bolstered spending in July, following the landmark vote on June 23 that sent sterling plummeting against major currencies including the dollar and the euro.
The report said Asian nations and the U.S. were “largely responsible” for the positive cash injection, with tourists from Japan, Indonesia and the U.S. accounting for the biggest increase.
“Though the weaker pound following the referendum was initially unwelcome news, it has proved perfect timing for tourists visiting the U.K.,” said Gordon Clark, managing director, U.K. and Ireland, for Global Blue. “As the pound still fluctuates, we hope the flurry of tourist activity to the U.K. has inspired others to follow suit and visit and shop.”
Spending by Japanese was up 96 percent year-over-year in the month of July, while tourists from Indonesia spent 88 percent more than last year on tax-free shopping.
Chinese tourists’ spend in the U.K. edged up 6 percent in July, and the country still accounted for the largest portion of spend overall, with a 32 percent share of the total.
Although the volume of transactions made by Chinese shoppers actually fell 6 percent last month, the average spend for July increased 13 percent to 840 pounds, or $1,098, per transaction.
Dollar figures have been converted at average exchange rates for the periods to which they refer.
U.S. citizens were the second largest shopper group in July, and accounted for 7 percent of the total international tax-free spend, according to the Global Blue report.
The stronger dollar and weaker pound led to a 20 percent increase in the number of tax-free shopping transactions by U.S. travelers, and a 22 percent spike in their average spend to 734 pounds, or $960.
Hong Kong accounted for 6 percent of total spend in the U.K. in July. While Middle Eastern tourists continued to spend, their spending increased at a slower rate than in the past because of the later timing of Ramadan, which ran from June 6 to July 7. As a result, Global Blue said it is expecting stronger spending in the month of August.
In July, spend by the Qataris rose 29 percent, and UAE by 4 percent. Despite this, Qatar remained the nation with the highest average spend per transaction for July, at 1,642 pounds, or $2,146.
Clark cited VisitBritain’s 2015 statistics, noting the July-to-September period was the most popular season for international travelers to the U.K. He said he was optimistic about tourist spending in the months of August and September.