Rich Indian shoppers flock to UK for luxury goods

Last Updated: Jul 14, 2010, 20:41 PM IST

London: Fuelled by a booming economy, a record number of Indian shoppers scoured London`s West End and other stores across Britain for luxury goods between June 2009 and June 2010, new research shows.

Figures released today reveal the growing international mobility of Indian tourists, whose number jumped by a record 89 per cent during the period.

The data was collected by financial services company Global Blue from over 15,000 stores in Britain.

"India is one of several emerging markets favouring high end fashion," Lisa Sharland, a representative for Global Blue, told reporters.

She said that unlike in the past when Indian shoppers primarily made purchases on the high street (where there is still a 46 per cent increase in transactions), there is now a shift towards the luxury end of the scale as Indian shoppers increasingly become more brand conscious.

Global Blue suggested that the reason for this was the recent arrival of luxury brands in India. "The nation is now becoming more aware than ever of luxury stores. Many of these shoppers will come for an extended period to visit family and will make several trips in the duration of their stay," Sharland said.

The research shows that the average transaction size of 444 pounds is expected to increase for Indian shoppers over the next 12 months by 5 per cent to 10 per cent, reflecting the UK`s key position as the top shopping destination for the luxury spenders in emerging markets.

Nigel Dasler, vice-president of Global Blue, which manages over 38,000 shopper transactions each day across 40 markets, said: "Over the past few years, we had great
expectations for sales growth of Indian shoppers in the UK which did not materialise".

He added: "However, in 2009-2010, India has become an important market for the UK with a 31 per cent rise in travellers. We are following the trend of Indian shoppers to
the luxury sector in the UK and have noted an increase in their average spend from June 2009 to June 2010. This may be an indication of the growing wealth of the country."

Jill McArdle, the head of Marketing for Westfield London, said: "We have seen significant footfall from the Indian tourist market during the summer period in The Village.

Specific brands that have experienced strong sales from Indian tourists holidaying in the capital are: Ferragamo, Miu Miu, Prada and Jimmy Choo."

"Our luxury stores have also reported that the Indian market is currently buying up next season`s collection of Autumn/Winter stock and we expect to see sales from India to
continue to increase from the high spending Indian market," McArdle said.

The figures show that while Britain reels under recession, job losses and major public sector spending cuts, its retail industry - particularly the luxury end - is being driven by shoppers from India, China and other countries less affected by recession.

Luxury stores such as Harrods in west London and many of the big fashion retailers with shops in the capitals West End are regularly packed with shoppers and both are
classed as prime tourism hot spots in the UK.

Retailers in the West End also launched a campaign recently to urge the David Cameron government to relax visa norms for tourists from India and China, particularly during
the 2012 Olympics in London.

Called ‘The Visa-Ability Campaign’, the move is driven by predictions that spending by shoppers in Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street will touch 12 billion
pounds in the next two years, particularly during the Olympics.

The New West End Company, which represents 600 retailers on the three top-end streets, told reporters that the spend on West End for 2010 alone was set to exceed 6 billion pounds.

The campaign to relax visa norms was launched by the New West End Company and ‘VisitBritain’ the agency that encourages international tourism to Britain.

Following a recent survey of West End retailers, 40 per cent predicted that the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games would boost sales by 10 per cent.

One million additional international visitors are expected to flock into London`s West End during this period.

Jace Tyrrell, Director of Communications at New West End Company said: "In the lead up to 2012 with international visitors reaching an all time high, our main territories for concern with the current visa restrictions are China, UAE, Russia, India, South Africa and Thailand."

He added: "It is these key markets making up 25 per cent of our visitor numbers and significantly boost sales. In July of 2009 when Visa restrictions were introduced to South Africa, visitor numbers dropped dramatically by 15 per cent, with the Olympic Games just two years away we need to ensure that we are doing everything we can to keep these international markets.

PTI

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