‘Brexit tourists’ pick up bargains on UK high streets

Overseas shoppers cash in on weak pound over Christmas.   Picture Ian Rutherford
Overseas shoppers cash in on weak pound over Christmas. Picture Ian Rutherford
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“Brexit tourists” from overseas cashed in on the weakened pound to snap up bargains on UK high streets over the Christmas period.

Edinburgh was among the cities which saw the biggest rise with tourists spending almost a quarter more in December than last year - the second highest in the UK after London.

Foreign visitors spent over £725 million on British high-streets in December, according to the report from payments processor Worldpay - worth an extra 22 per cent or £130 million to high street retailers compared to 2015.

James Frost, UK chief marketing officer for Worldpay, said: “Bricks and mortar retailers have not had things all their own way this Christmas, with the latest reports suggesting UK consumers are increasingly doing the bulk of their shopping online.

“So the influx of free-spending tourists we saw in December will have been a welcome boost for retailers looking to balance the books.”

He added: “High-street retailers must now seize the moment to consolidate their global standing by investing in technologies to help them deliver the quality, experience, choice and convenience which will keep tourists spending.”

Worldpay found visitors from Hong Kong were among the most eager bargain hunters, spending an extra 69 per cent in UK stores during December compared to 2015.

Spending on Chinese cards was up by 24 per cent, while traditionally big-spending visitors from the UAE spent an extra 31 per cent. Meanwhile, the amount spent by French and German tourists during the festive period was up by 14 per cent.

Manchester was the next most popular city for foreign bargain junters, with sales from foreign cards up 14 per cent. High-end boutiques and department stores in London’s West End were among the biggest beneficiaries from tourist spend over the Christmas period, with foreign tourists shelling out an extra 35 per cent in these stores compared to the previous year.

Earlier this year, it emerged that European shoppers in countries such as Iceland were turning to British brands in a bid to get a bargain as the pound fell. Overseas shoppers have turned to UK websites to by British clothing brands at a reduced price, while brands such as Karen Millen, Warehouse and Topshop have been the focus of international buyers as local department stores have passed the reduced cost of UK products on to the consumer.