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Cash-rich Indian shoppers flock to London's West End

Last updated on: July 14, 2010 15:53 IST

Cash-rich Indian shoppers flock to London's West End

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Prasun Sonwalkar in London

There was a 31 per cent increase in June in the number of Indian shoppers spending money in the UK, according to new research that highlights the growing international mobility of Indian tourists riding on a booming economy.

The study by financial services firm Global Blue shows there was an 89 per cent hike in the number of luxury goods purchased by Indian visitors in June.

The figures show that while Britain reels under recession, job losses and major public sector spending cuts, its retail industry -- particularly the luxury end -- is being driven by shoppers from India, China and other countries less affected by recession.

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Luxury stores such as Harrods in west London and many of the big fashion retailers with shops in the capital's West End are regularly packed with shoppers and both are classed as prime tourism hot spots in the UK.

The Global Blue study states that Miu Miu, Prada and Jimmy Choo were the brands most popular with Indian shoppers.

Vice president of Global Blue Nigel Dasler commented: "India has become an important market for the UK with a 31 per cent rise in travellers. This may be an indication of the growing wealth of the country."

Retailers in the West End also launched a campaign recently to urge the David Cameron government to relax visa norms for tourists from India and China, particularly during the 2012 Olympics in London.

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Called 'The Visa-Ability Campaign', the move is driven by predictions that spending by shoppers in Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street will touch 12 billion pounds in the next two years, particularly during the Olympics.

The New West End Company, which represents 600 retailers on the three top-end streets, told PTI that the spend on West End for 2010 alone was set to exceed 6 billion pounds.

The campaign to relax visa norms was launched by the New West End Company and VisitBritain the agency that encourages international tourism to Britain.

Following a recent survey of West End retailers, 40 per cent predicted that the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games would boost sales by 10 per cent.

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One million additional international visitors are expected to flock into London's West End during this period. Jace Tyrrell, director of communications at New West End Company said: "In the lead up to 2012 with international visitors reaching an all time high, our main territories for concern with the current visa restrictions are China, UAE, Russia, India, South Africa and Thailand."

"It is these key markets making up 25 per cent of our visitor numbers and significantly boost sales. In July of 2009 when Visa restrictions were introduced to South Africa, visitor numbers dropped dramatically by 15 per cent, with the Olympic Games just two years away we need to ensure that we are doing everything we can to keep these international markets", he added.



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