While the UK economy, including the high street, is still not in the best shape, the country might glory in the title of the world’s most sought-after destination for foreign shoppers looking to splash out their hard-earned money. A study by VisitBritain indicates that the UK has still its magic that lures overseas shoppers to come and spend cash in British shops.
UK – Mecca for shoppers
VisitBritain, which is the UK's national tourism agency, released its study showing that approximately 18 million overseas visitors spent as much as £4.5 billion in British shops in 2011. The sum accounted for approximately 30 percent of total spending of about £17.9 billion. In addition, it was a 7 percent jump on the previous year. Also initial data for 2012 was unveiled indicating that the overseas spending climbed to roughly £4.7 billion.
Among 18 million overseas visitors, were 300,000 tourists who came to Britain only with one aim – SHOPPING! This group spent approximately £168 million in 2011.
The findings of the VisitBritain study indicate that the majority of shopping expenses was on clothes as overseas popinjays spent as much as £2.3 billion on them! What is interesting is the fact that approximately 20 percent of tourists believed that shopping in the world-famous Harrods was a top activity. Surprisingly, shopping in Harrods left behind activities such as visiting Harry Potter's locations, even theaters and cinemas.
Even though British shops saw overseas shoppers spend money like water, there are those who believe that it can be done more for development of shopping tourism in the UK. Among those sharing the above view is Michael Ward,the managing director of Harrods, who is strongly convinced that visa and airport capacity issues should be resolved if the UK economy wants to benefit more from shopping tourism.
The latest survey also shows that overseas tourists were keen on spending their money on souvenirs, gifts and household goods and they left in British shops about £1.6 billion. In addition, the findings indicate that an average shopping visitor spent around £680 per trip, compared to £580 spent by a “normal” overseas tourist.
Not surprisingly, the survey also demonstrates that London with its high-end shops remained a major attraction for overseas tourists, including foreign shopping visitors. Over 80 percent of foreign visitors to London decided to go shopping.
Needless to say, French tourists dominated the list of tourists as 2 million of them decided to go the UK. They were followed by Germans and Americans who took the second place. The third place went to Irish with about 1.3 million trips. However, Australians, who were in the top ten, turned out to be the most prone to shopping as approximately 75 percent of Australian tourists went for shopping hunting in the UK. But also Brazilians, Russians and Chinese demonstrated their big hunger for shopping which topped the average.
Best shopping destination
Only some have courage to say the same thing which was stated by Serena Williams: “I love shopping.” But when it comes to travelling, everyone goes crazy and just goes for it. It is truth that shopping is a drug as it can be therapeutic but it can be also very harmful if you do not know how to proportion it.
Despite the popular debate over shopping and its good and bad sides, one thing is certain that there are some places that are just better shopping destinations. To cut a long story short, London is one of the best shopping destinations which can deliver the most rewarding and enjoyable shopping experience ever.