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Chinese tourists are spending more shopping times in London's chic districts
Chinese tourists are spending more shopping times in London's chic districts

Gloom-defying shoppers from China are flocking to the luxury stores of London's West End, outspending Arab royalty, replacing Russia's departing super-rich and lifting spirits after nine months of recession.Data from tax rebate companies suggests Chinese tourists are spending three to four times more than a year ago in London's chic shopping districts.

"Income growth -- particularly the top end, also driven by wealth accumulation -- remains robust in China," said Linda Yueh, a fellow in economics at Oxford University.

"Thus, wealthy Chinese may find that the weak pound makes Britain an attractive place to shop."


As well as top labels, the Chinese are drawn to more prosaic items, and they are not as seduced by lifestyle offerings.

For example, top-end retailers have employed Mandarin-speaking sales staff to cope with the influx of Chinese customers but London's chic hotels have yet to benefit, said Charles Wang of tour operator Travco.

Jewelry demand in China, the world's second-largest gold consumer, rose 6 percent in the second quarter of 2009 from a year earlier, against a 31 percent drop in India and a 9 percent decline in global demand for gold.


The trend is even more marked elsewhere.

Global Refund, which arranges sales tax refunds for tourists, reported a 164 percent rise in sales to Chinese customers on Bond Street in the first seven months of 2009 from a year ago. Spending by Russians fell 27 percent, although at 1,295 pounds their average spend was still higher than the Chinese shoppers' typical 972 pounds.

Similar figures from Premier Tax Free show sales for which it arranged tax rebates to Chinese shoppers soared to 3.9 million pounds on Bond Street in the first seven months of this year from just under 1 million pounds a year ago.


  Source: Reuters

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