NO MORE BLUES: Global Blue, the tax-free shopping agency, said tourists have begun splashing their foreign cash once again in the U.K. after a bleak year that saw visitors from China, Russia, Thailand, Malaysia and Nigeria put a stop on shopping.
According to a Global Blue report that will be released Wednesday, spending by international shoppers in the U.K. rose 10 percent year-on-year in November in what has, until now, been a slow year. The 10 percent uptick compares with a 12 percent decline seen in November 2014.
Spending by the top three international shopper groups all saw double-digit growth in the month. Shoppers from the top-spending region, the Middle East, spent 22 percent more year-on-year, while Chinese tourist spending climbed 12 percent. Shoppers from the U.S. spent 55 percent more compared with last November.
Global Blue said international spend in the January-October period rose 3 percent year-on-year, due partly to a drop in tourists from China and other nations struggling with economic woes and a fall in oil and commodity prices.
“The root of the slowdown has been due to the consequences on consumer confidence caused by economic and political issues that have hit top spending countries,” the company said.
Russian tourists continue to hang onto their cash, with spend until the month of October dropping 41 percent year-on-year, and falling 33 percent in the month of November.
Thai and Malaysian shoppers are also tightening purse strings, with their U.K. spend having dropped 1 percent and 16 percent year-on-year, respectively.
Furthermore, the slump in oil prices has severely damaged Nigeria’s economy, with shoppers less inclined to travel abroad. Their spend has declined 20 percent year-on-year.
Global Blue believes the pickup in sales in November is a harbinger of better times: “U.K. retailers should look forward to a positive end to the year as the encouraging November growth marks the start of what is set to be a bumper period for international spend,” the company said.
Gordon Clark, head of commercial U.K. and Ireland at Global Blue, said the Boxing Day sales are a “significant draw, and with figures for December 2014 showing 11 percent year-on-year growth, we expect them to contribute greatly to international spend again this year.”