Tourist spending increases over December

Premier Tax Free, specialists in refunding VAT to international shoppers across the world, examined tourist spending trends across the UK’s major cities during December 2011. The findings show that visitors to Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester spent a staggering 48 per cent more than in December 2010.


Visitors to Glasgow topped the scales, spending 175 per cent more in December 2011 than December 2010, more than the other capitals combined. Americans made up the majority of the rise, increasing their spending in Glasgow by more than 290 per cent; they are followed by the Chinese, who spent 180 per cent more, and the UAE at 83 per cent. In comparison tourist spending in London and Manchester increased by 35 per cent and Edinburgh by 31 per cent.



Tourists typically spent £428 per sale in the capital over December. Nationalities favouring the capital include:

  • Norwegians, whose transaction values have increased the most from 2010, spending 74 per cent more
  • Qataris, whose spending increased by 44 per cent
  • Kuwaitis, up 41 per cent
  • Americans increased their spending by 36 per cent


December also showed some distinct tourist trading peaks in London. The most intense spending (33 per cent of the total value) occurred between the 23rd to the 31st. This is up 50 per cent from the same period in 2010. The biggest tourist spending day was Boxing Day, accounting for five per cent of total tourist spending in the capital. This is a dramatic 90 per cent more than the 26th of December 2010, with a typical transaction value of £302. Lebanese tourists took the greatest advantage of the sales, spending the most per transaction on Boxing Day at £1,225. They are followed by Saudi Arabians who spent £460 per sale.


The traffic free shopping days in London’s West End on the 10th and 11th of December, dubbed the ‘Very Important Pedestrian (VIP) Weekend’ also had a positive impact on tourist sales. The VIP Weekend accounted for five per cent of the total value of transactions over the month, comparable with the Boxing Day figures. In general, tourists spent £414 per transaction over the weekend, with those from Indonesia spending the most per transaction, at £1,473.


“It is very encouraging to know that tourists are flocking to the UK to spend their money. These figures demonstrate how valuable the tourist industry is, especially over peak shopping periods,” says Duncan Bews, Director of Sales at Premier Tax Free. “In addition, these numbers show no signs of slowing down. Retailers need to make the most of visitors to the UK eager to take advantage of the lower pound. Those that convert the additional 20 per cent tourists can claim back through tax free shopping into sales can make substantial gains.”



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