China to Britain’s rescue?
The retailing business in Britain is becoming weaker. “Christmas is a crucial trading period for the UK retail sector but this year many retailers was nervous and unsure as to how the season will pan out,” said Helen Dickinson, head of retail at the accountancy firm KPMG.
Even so, Chinese shoppers have come to the rescue and helped to raise the December post-tax annual profits at the London department store Harvey Nichols by 32 percent above what they had been a year before, the company said.
The boost in sales for such London departments stores as Harrods and Selfridges from China’s luxury consumers is part of a growing trend to make fashionable products even more so by purchasing them abroad.
“When Chinese consumers travel, they spend six times more than when they stay at home,” Angela Ahrendts , CEO of Burberry, was quoted as saying by the Financial Times. “Saying ‘I bought this in London’ adds further cachet.” Manelik Sfez, vice president of global marketing at Global Blue, agreed. “It is much more romantic and powerful to buy products of a luxury brand from its country of origin,” he said.
“I prefer shopping for luxurious products in European cities like London, Paris and Milan – mostly for bags, watches and shoes, which are much cheaper and come with more options than you can find with the same items in China,” said Shen Jie, who lives in Wenzhou, a city in Zhejiang province. Shen said she usually spends about 300,000 yuan ($47,000) on luxurious items each time she goes shopping abroad.
And European retailers have good reason to think they will see more shoppers like Shen, since Chinese shoppers are going to that region in larger and larger droves. The British Tourist Authority VisitBritain predicts that, in 2014, the number of Chinese tourists coming to Britain will be 117 percent higher than it was in 2008. London department stores’ efforts to attract Chinese customers include Harrods teaching their staff Mandarin and accepting the convenient China UnionPay cards. The extra attention has facilitated the trend of the so-called “Traveling Luxury Consumer.”
London is now the second-most popular holiday destination for Chinese travelers according to Global Blue, who reports that Paris remains the city to beat.
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