Fashion tourism worth over £3 billion to UK economy

Thursday, 03 November 2011
British style has significantly boosted the perception of the country both as a barometer of taste and as a shopping destination. It's also an industry worth a staggering £3 billion. Britain’s shopping districts are emerging as one of our biggest tourist attractions as ongoing financial woes and the British shopping experience combine to create an ideal shopping holiday. A survey by Shoparazzi, a member’s only shopping club, has revealed that over £3 billion is spent in the UK each year on fashion by tourists, making shopping tourism a significant contributor to the economy. As many as 1 million people per annum may be visiting Britain each year just to shop.

With annual visitors to the UK estimated at 30 million, almost half are travelling on holiday. In a survey, Shoparazzi found that the average spend on fashion per tourist was £253. This equates to £3 billion in total, which is a significant portion of the The British Fashion Council’s £21billion total estimate that the fashion industry is worth to the UK economy.

As emerging markets are continuing to grow, their inhabitants have increased spending power. While Western Europe and Britain have struggled to reshape their debt laden economies, there is increased buying from overseas tourists, especially those visiting from Asia..

Generally, Britain’s overall shopping environment is very appealing to tourists. Individual shopping centres cater for a spectrum of budgets. And many areas boast unique experiences, such as the glamour of Bond Street, the “grunge chic” of London’s Shoreditch, and the unparalleled value of Bicester Village. Online reviews of Bicester Village indicate over 70% of reviews from non-UK residents are from Asia or Australasia. The equivalent percentage for the London Eye is only 18%.

The Internet and mobile Internet are cited most often by tourists as the most popular way to research a shopping trip. 66% said they had used websites or mobile apps to plan a shopping trip before they traveled. Supporting this statistic, Shoparazzi reports that over 15% of downloads of its free Shoparazzi iPhone app (which contains exclusively information about UK fashion stores) have been from outside of the UK. The seven most popular countries downloading the free app (ranked by the number of downloads): United States, Australia, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, and South Korea.

Shoparazzi co-founder Colin Bruce stated, “The successful export of British style has significantly boosted the perception of the country both as a barometer of taste and as a shopping destination. We predict that this trend will continue and that stores will profit from tailoring their offering and experience to the fashion tourist.”

Shoparazzi is a shopping guide for members, with features such as a high street sale aggregator, sample sale finder and private member offers from participating stores.

Image: Harvey Nichols campaign

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