The end of Ramadan is forecast to provide an early summer boost for retailers, according to the latest data provided by tax free shopping company Premier Tax Free, in partnership with Forward Keys, showing high double-digit increases on last year in tourist arrivals from the Gulf Co-Operation Council (GCC) Nations, which is expected to result in triple-digit Tax Free shopping sales growth to these tourists in the weeks following the end of Ramadan. The celebration ends earlier this year on 24th June (Ramadan ended on 5th July in 2016).

Sales to these tourists have seen a relatively modest increase of 5% in 2017 to date, as the economies of GCC nations continue to adjust to cuts in expenditure and investments diversifying away from a dependence on oil resulting in comparatively tepid economic growth.

Muriel Zingraff-Shariff, UK Country Manager, Premier Tax Free said, “The Ramadan calendar is set to provide an early sales opportunity for luxury retailers this summer for which they are well-advised to prepare in order to leverage it.”

The main European destination markets all look set to benefit from this boost with the most significant gains predicted in tourists from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, with France and the UK the most popular shopping destination choices for these tourists.


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Chinese tourist boom continues

The figures also reveal that April was a golden month for Chinese tourist spend, with the growth in Tax Free shopping sales to these visitors across Europe increasing by over a third (37%) in April 2017, on a year on year basis. This represents the highest gains seen since July 2015, attributed to concerns around biometrics and safety diminishing.

The research has also shown the appeal of the UK as a retail destination remains strong, despite external events, such as March’s Westminster attack, with total sales growth of 36% in April, predominantly driven by over 80% growth in sales to both Chinese and Saudi tourists. Looking ahead, international visitors to the UK are set to remain strong, with figures for May to July forecast to see double-digit gains in Chinese tourists.

Zingraff-Shariff adds: “It is encouraging to see the UK remaining a retail destination of choice for the Chinese, with factors such as the falling value of the pound only helping this trend. Retailers should also take heart that despite major political and economic events, tourists are continuing to come to the UK for their spending sprees.”