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“The days of Americans being the biggest overseas shoppers at London’s Harrods store are over” according to Bloomberg. “It is probable today that America will not feature in our top 10 of overseas customers because of the growth of the east and the mineral- and oil-rich nations,” explained Harrods general manager Michael Ward. China is “by far No. 1.”

Instead, travellers from Thailand, Singapore and Nigeria, according to Harrods, increasingly dominate spending. Something reiterated by Global Blue this week, revealing that growth in spend by Thai shoppers has soared by 68% YTD [January-May 2013], overtaking the Chinese as the fastest growing international shopper market this year.

Specifically Thai shoppers are setting their sights on the UK. Visits to the UK from Thai travellers totalled 65,000 in the most recent figures from 2011, London – and its’ luxury department stores – are a key shopping attraction for Thai shoppers with 55% of UK visits taking place in London

A recent burst in travel by Thai tourists comes as a result of a growing middle-class, according to Global Blue, as the growth in the Chinese economy continues to have a ripple effect on South East Asian territories including Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

“Capital cities such as Bangkok are already established in showcasing both local and foreign brands,” explains Gordon Clark, UK Country Manager at Global Blue. "But it is the cache for buying British at UK flagship stores which is at the forefront of the drive to look further afield. In particular, we are seeing that Thai travellers like to purchase leather and travel accessories, as sales in these goods has rocketed 73 per cent from previous years”.

Sophie Doran

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