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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 19 April 2018

Tourists set to give boost to struggling UK retailers as post-Christmas sales begin

Overseas shoppers will join British consumers in spending £4.5 billion (Dh22.08bn) in the Boxing Day sales

Shoppers take advantage of the Boxing Day sales in Liverpool city centre. Peter Byrne/PA via AP
Shoppers take advantage of the Boxing Day sales in Liverpool city centre. Peter Byrne/PA via AP

Tourists to the UK are expected to ease the woes of British retailers on Tuesday by spending big in the traditional bank holiday sales which follow Christmas Day.

The Boxing Day sales, as they are known in Britain, will see shoppers splurge around £4.5 billion (Dh22.08bn), according to research by analysts Vouchercodes and the Centre for Retail Research.

Much of the spending will be driven by tourists, mainly from China, who are spending the festive period in the UK’s towns and cities.

The New West End Company, which represents 600 businesses around London’s Oxford Street shopping district, said tourists had been attracted by the weak pound.

“A high number of international visitors will take advantage of currency fluctuations and low-cost flights to come to the West End,” Jace Tyrrell, the chief executive of the New West End Company, told The Times.

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Overseas shoppers will spend £62 million in the UK’s capital on Tuesday, almost a third of the total income expected including domestic shoppers, with an average spend of over £1000 per head.

British retailers have been impacted by the UK’s sluggish economy in 2017, which is in part due to the rise in inflation following the result of the 2016 Brexit referendum, with stalling incomes putting a squeeze on household budgets.

Popular high street stores have offered large discounts on their items in order to attract up to 34 per cent of the British population, according to analysts.

Retailers expect consumer appetite to be higher than last year’s disappointing sales period in which only 23 per cent of the population indulged in post-Christmas retail therapy.

Paul Lockstone, managing director at Barclaycard, said: "Last year, Black Friday overshadowed Boxing Day sales as many retailers struggled to maintain consumer interest in what has become a month-long discounting event.

"This year, however, value-seeking consumers appear to be more eager to buy cut-price items across both sales periods as they try to combat rising prices."

On Tuesday morning, shoppers were seen queuing outside department stores on Oxford Street, including high end department store Selfridges, as inside retailers prepared to open their doors.

“Boxing Day is the big one. It’ll be the biggest spending shopping day ever,” Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research, said.

“Shops said Boxing Day last year was the best day ever – even better than forecast – and the day gets bigger and bigger every year.”