West End spend to top £150m for Black Friday
International tourists making the most of the devalued pound should “supercharge takings” in London’s West End this Black Friday, according to a forecast from industry body the New West End Company.
NWEC expects this to be the busiest Black Friday yet across Oxford, Regent and Bond Streets and the surrounding area with total sales up to £154 million. And while bargain-hunting UK shoppers will account for £100 million of that, it means that foreign visitors will be responsible for more than a third of the total take at £54 million.
The international spend figure follows the growth trend in 2016, when international Black Friday transactions were up 40% year-on-year. And the signs are that this will continue. According to tax free shopping company Premier Tax Free, spend from Chinese tourists has climbed as much as 42% to £1,022 between January and October so far, with sales to non-EU tourists up 21% in the same period.
Meanwhile, domestic spend on Black Friday has been growing over the long term, with compound annual growth for the last three years at 12%. This year, although domestic sales are expected to be up only 8% on 2016, its shows “the resilience of British bargain-hunters” in the face of stagnating wage growth and economic uncertainty.
NWEC Chief Executive Jace Tyrrell said: “Last year Black Friday provided the single busiest day the West End has ever seen, and this year the event is showing no sign of slowing down. Despite those who say Black Friday is largely an online trend, we’ve seen increasing numbers of retailers taking part in the day.”
Last year’s Black Friday saw Regent Street footfall up 4.7% while Bond street rose 3.7%. Oxford Street saw an uplift on the Saturday, with a 1.5% footfall rise.
Diane Wehrle, Marketing & Insights Director at specialist footfall tracker Springboard, said: “As it stands it’s looking as though London’s West End will buck the national trend with a predicted increase of 1% footfall for the West End vs a drop of 0.6% across the UK. The weaker pound continues to encourage tourism and combined with heavy discounting by fashion retailers this could serve to further drive up footfall.”
UK retailers are currently in promotional mode with many offering 20% to 50% off almost everything in-store. But aside from straightforward discounts, a large number are also planning specific activities over the next few days and expect this to boost turnover.
Managing Director for Beauty and Marketing at Debenhams, Richard Cristofoli said: “Black Friday is firmly established in the UK consumer’s mindset and for Debenhams last year it was our biggest day of trade ever. We expect our online trade to be 6.5 times a normal day with the day also driving six times the footfall.”
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