Chinese hit London for a spendthrift Lunar New Year

By Gabrielle Pickard
0 CommentsPrint E-mail, February 11, 2011
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Whilst many bleat on about the negative effects China's new found wealth is having on the west, the UK is irrefutably benefiting from China's increasing prosperity –You only had to be shopping in London during the last few days, to understand why.

When walking down London's Oxford Street this week, one could not help but notice the huge amount of Chinese tourists, laden with bags sporting designer names. In celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year, an influx of affluent, middle class tourists from China flocked to London to take advantage of the significantly cheaper prices for designer brands.

Traditionally, China's Lunar New Year is a time spent with families, but with the nation's rapidly expanding middle class, the holiday season is now considered a time to travel and spend money – and with the pound losing approximately a third of its value against the Renminbi in the last three years, why not take a trip to London?

London's unique history and culture, its world-renowned West End and many exclusive streets lined with designer stores such as Gucci, Prada, Giorgio Armani and Christian Dior, selling exclusive clothing for considerably less expensive prices than back home, means London has become a very attractive city for the wealthy Chinese to visit. According to Jonathan De Mello, a retail analyst at the CB Richard Ellis consultancy,

"Stores such as Burberry and Selfridges now have Chinese speaking staff assistants to cater for the huge number of Chinese customers. Chinese workers take their holidays at the same time. They come here on tour groups, everything is done for them. They are taken to shops in the West End where they feel obliged to buy something. It's very lucrative for both sides."

The growing surge in the number of affluent Chinese tourists in the UK means that consumers from China now account for almost 30% of the sales of luxury items in the UK, ahead of Russians, Arabs and Japanese. According to an analysis of customer spending at the retailers of Regent Street, Bond Street and Oxford Street, in 2010, the Chinese parted with £3 million on confectionary, fashion items and cosmetics, making China the highest-spending nationality last year.

Eying one particularly glamorous Chinese shopper on Regent Street, looking a little weary from her obvious spending spree at the likes of Prada and Harvey Nichols, I asked 'Miss Adaeze' to join me for a coffee in Starbucks, to which she willingly obliged, happy to take a rest from her exhausted day of shopping. Adaeze was on a visit to London to take advantage of what she referred to as 'designer bargains' and the Chinese New Year was the perfect time to make her fifth trip to London.

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