Shopping drives UK tourism market

Shopping drives UK tourism market

Shopping is one of the most popular activities for international visitors to the UK, with 64 per cent of visits in 2014 involving shopping; and an estimated £5.5bn being spent on retail therapy during the year, according to new research from VisitBritain, the national tourism agency.

Their new report, Types of shops visited by overseas visitors, reveals how lucrative shopping by overseas visitors is for the UK economy with around 22 million international visitors in 2014 indulging in retail therapy.

Patricia Yates, director of strategy and communications, VisitBritain said: “Retail therapy is one of the great relaxing pursuits for international holiday visitors to the UK – with 80 per cent going shopping.

“And, average spend for people who come to the UK primarily to shop is £346 a night, a huge lift on the average spend of £83.

“Inbound tourism is Britain’s third biggest service export and supports sectors such as retail as well as hotels and attractions.”


Women are most likely to go shopping during their visit; three quarters of women (77 per cent) shopped compared to just over half of men (54 per cent).

In fact, shopping on London’s Oxford Street is the second most appealing activity to potential female visitors to the UK.

Around 80 per cent more was spent by visitors who shopped, spending an average of £739 during their trip, compared to £414 spent by visitors who didn’t.

Young visitors are the most likely to go shopping during their visit, with 85 per cent under 16 and 77 per cent of 16-24 year olds visiting High Street stores, Gift and Boutique shops.

When we look at specific markets it is the French who visit shops the most, with the USA, third, overtaking Germany.

Fifty-five per cent of visitors from Gulf countries, which include Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and UAE, seek out Luxury stores - Gulf countries’ visitors tend to spend more during their visit, too; amongst the highest spenders whilst in the UK, typically they spend £2,372 each.