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London department stores become the 'Great Mall of China'
Swarms of tourists from China visited the United Kingdom during the New Year shopping season in London's department stores.
The amazing capacity for spending displayed by Chinese tourists has not gone unnoticed in the international luxury market. Swarms of tourists from China visited the United Kingdom during the New Year shopping season and each on average spent more than 2,500 pounds (around US$4,000) in London's famous Harrods department store, reports recently.

Entering Selfridges department store in London, young Chinese shoppers seemed to be all around. Most of them crowded around designer brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada and snapped up luxury items without a second thought.

Many Chinese shoppers bought lunar new year's gifts for family and friends during the annual discount sales in London. One shopper bought 12 Hermes scarves.

Spotting a sea change in their international clientele, many high-end department stores in London have replaced their Japanese-speaking sales staff with Chinese-speaking assistants.

Michael Ward, managing director at Harrods, told the newspaper that each Chinese shopper on average spent 2,520 pounds (US$4,000) in their store.

"A Chinese shopper only spent about 30% of an American shopper's expenditure four or five years ago, and they have largely overtaken their American counterparts now," Ward was quoted as saying.

Figures from shopping information provider Global Blue also revealed that a Chinese shopper on average spent 1,058 pounds (US$1,664) at each store in London, far more than the average spend of visitors from the Middle East and Russia, who spent 851 pounds (US$1,339) and 696 pounds (US$1,095), respectively.

Bicester Village, a shopping center in Oxfordshire, has been another shopping paradise for Chinese shoppers, taking in 4,500 tour buses full of Chinese shoppers every year.

According to an online survey by Harrods, 79% of Chinese tourists enjoy shopping and 92% of them prefer luxury brands, figures much higher than local shoppers. A British shopper on average only spent 10% of what their Chinese counterpart forked out.

The British tourism board said a total of 110,000 Chinese nationals visited the UK in 2010, an increase of 23% compared with 2010. The number is expected to reach 300,000 per year by 2020.
  Source: Want China Times

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