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Chinese revealed as biggest spenders on tax-free shopping in Manchester

Chinese tourists spend more in Manchester’s stores than any other nationality, according to the Heart of Manchester BID and tax-free shopping company Global Blue. Visitors from Kuwait, Thailand and Malaysia also revealed as top-spenders.

The tax free shopping figures were revealed at Wednesday 9th April by Global Blue at a ‘China Retail Seminar’ organised by Marketing Manchester, the Manchester China Forum and the Heart of Manchester BID.
The event offered an insight into the Chinese visitor market and the opportunities and benefits of tax free shopping, which allows consumers from outside the EU to claim VAT back on their shopping.  China Union Pay and Capela Training also highlighted the importance of accepting the China Union Pay card and cultural training opportunities available. 
According to Global Blue, visitors from China spent 29% more on tax-free shopping in Manchester stores during 2013 compared to the previous year, with an average transaction spend of £677.
Kuwait and Thailand were identified by Global Blue as offering huge potential in terms of retail spend in the city with retail sales increasing by a staggering 70% and 73% respectively in 2013 compared to the previous year. This significant growth is made even more impressive when compared against the UK’s average growth in spend by visitors from Kuwait (34%) and Thailand (46%) and London’s West End which experienced growth year on year of 33% from shoppers hailing from Kuwait and a 51% increase in spend by Thai visitors in 2013.
Additional figures sourced by the Heart of Manchester BID, which represents over 380 city centre retailers, supported Global Blue’s findings revealing half of Selfridge’s tax free sales at its Exchange Square store are generated by Chinese customers. Women’s accessories were revealed to be the most popular type of tax-free purchase and according to Harvey Nichols, brands favoured by international shoppers include Givenchy, Kenzo, Balenciaga, Shiseido, Sisley and Kilian.
Over 100 Manchester city centre retailers offer tax-free shopping with many of the city’s retailers, including Harvey Nichols and Selfridges offering China Union Pay chip and pin terminals in store to allow payments via Chinese credit cards. Selfridges was the first retailer in the UK to introduce China Union Pay to allow Chinese customers to pay using their most popular credit card. Stores across the city centre also accept a wide variety of international currencies including the Euro, US Dollars, Japanese Yen, Australian Dollars, Swiss Francs and Danish Krone.
Jane Sharrocks, Heart of Manchester BID Chair and General Manager at Selfridges Exchange Square said: “International shoppers offer a big opportunity for our retailers and outside of London’s Luxury Quarter, Manchester city centre is home to more luxury brands than anywhere else in the UK. In addition to offering keys brands such as Coach, Givenchy, Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Proenza, Manchester also boasts the only Chanel and Tiffany boutiques outside of London.”
In addition to our luxury retail offer, the city’s wider cultural offering, excellent transport links, leading world-class higher education institutions and the city’s two football teams will no doubt have contributed to this fantastic growth.”
Our role is to help our retailers maximise international spend through marketing campaigns, training opportunities, events and by accessing the city’s extensive international student community.”
Gordon Clark, UK Country Manager at Global Blue comments: “With a leading international airport and home to key cultural attractions, Manchester is one of the top destinations for international visitors coming to the UK, creating a huge opportunity for retailers. China is the top spending international globe shopper in the region, representing 50% of the total tax free spend, growing at +29% in 2013 and their taste for designer brands and ‘Made in Britain’ items leads them to spend on average £677 per transaction.”
To maximise the potential of this market, retailers should introduce tax free shopping facilities to encourage higher spend and accommodate these shoppers by introducing multilingual staff and marketing materials, offering China Union Pay acceptance and aiding staff with cultural sales training to cater to specific shopper needs.”
To assist international shoppers, Marketing Manchester has produced a guide to tax free shopping in the city. The guide highlights the best of Manchester’s shopping offering, provides a comprehensive list of tax free retailers in Manchester as well as instructions on how and where to redeem tax refunds.
Global Blue’s Top Ten Globe Shopper Nations in Manchester during 2013:
5.Hong Kong
7.Saudi Arabia
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