Jun 8, 2016
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Pre-Ramadan rush to boost tax free spend in the UK

Jun 8, 2016

In the year to date, there has been a double-digit increase in tax free spend from Middle Eastern nations in the UK. Tax free specialist Global Blue now predicts that the "pre-Ramadan rush" will further boost Gulf nations' spend.

Photo: Global Blue

Ramadan takes place on June 6-July 5 this year. In 2014 and 2015, tax free spend figures for June in both years saw double digit growth of up to 66% (Kuwait, June 2014, YOY growth) for Middle Eastern nations in the pre-Ramadan period.

Gordon Clark, Managing Director UK and Ireland says: “The Gulf nationalities are the top performers of 2016 so far, boasting accelerated growth amongst a turbulent tourist market in London. In April alone, Arabic shoppers accounted for 42% of total UK sales, showing a 7% growth versus previous year bringing the spotlight to the Gulf, especially as China shows signs of a difficult declining market.”

From January to April this year, Middle Eastern nationalities represented 38% of overall UK tax free spend, with an 11% YOY growth against a -6% decline overall in the UK. When looking at the average spend, Qatar tops the list with spend of £1,538, followed by the United Arab Emirates at £1,330 and Saudi Arabia at £1,256 as the top three spending nationalities.

The Middle Eastern tourist spend is important for retailers, and Global Blue also gives advice on how to best serve shoppers from the region, including pointing out that a raised eyebrow means "no" and "thumbs up" is an obscene gesture.

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