Brexit boost for tax-free spending by tourists

The weaker pound helped boost spending by overseas visitors. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
The weaker pound helped boost spending by overseas visitors. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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A weaker pound in the wake of the Brexit vote has led to a 7 per cent increase in tax-free shopping by tourists last month, according to new figures.

The Global Blue tax-free shopping network said spending from Chinese tourists in UK stores accounted for 32 per cent of the total, the largest from any nationality – their average spend was about £840 per transaction.

Travellers from the US made the most of the exchange rate and were the second-largest spenders. They accounted for a 7 per cent share of the total spend and an average payout of £734. Hong Kong travellers followed closely in third position with a 6 per cent share of total spend in the UK.

Global Blue said that the start of Ramadan may have softened the growth in spending from Middle Eastern visitors but it still did not put them off from ringing up large amounts at the tills. Travellers from Qatar had the highest average spend per transaction at £1,642 in July.

Gordon Clark, Global Blue’s managing director for UK and Ireland, said: “Though the weaker pound following the referendum was initially unwelcome news, it has proved perfect timing for tourists visiting the UK, enjoying the British leisure, luxury and cultural offering during the summer season.

“The cash injection we have seen off the back of this has been hugely beneficial for our tourism economy. As the pound still fluctuates, we hope the flurry of tourist activity to the UK has inspired others to follow suit and visit and shop in the UK, where they can see a large discount from exchange rate benefits, but also from tax free shopping.”

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