Pound Drop Wins Americans as London Easter Shopping GainsSarah Shannon
The number of Easter-weekend shoppers in London’s West End jumped 15 percent as the pound’s exchange-rate drop helped attract American and European buyers, more than offsetting a cold snap that kept Britons away.
Shoppers spent 130 million pounds ($197 million) from March 29 through April 1, according to the New West End Co., which represents 600 retailers along Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street in London. U.S. citizens were the largest group, with shopper numbers gaining 15 percent on April 1 from last year’s Easter Monday and 3.9 percent over the holiday weekend, followed by visitors from the Nordic countries, France and Germany, according to Jace Tyrrell, a spokesman.
“The weakness in the pound makes it very attractive,” Tyrrell said. “Americans were the bulk and it was really noticeable on the streets. They have limited holiday, so they really take advantage of Easter.”
The presence of overseas shoppers, boosted by the 6.6 percent decline in the pound versus the dollar this year, has helped reduce retailers’ concerns that the coldest March in 50 years will weigh on U.K. consumers’ spending on spring fashions, outdoor furniture and barbecues. Last week, the Association of British Travel Agents reported a “surge in last-minute bookings to warm destinations” by Britons.
Buyers from the Nordic region also flocked to the main London shopping district as they sought out large-format flagship stores of retailers such as luxury chain Burberry Group Plc and youth-fashion store TopShop not available domestically, Tyrrell said.
“The Nordics and Europeans love London at the moment,” Tyrrell said. “We have a bigger mix of retail, and they are quite retail savvy and it’s better value,” thanks to the pound. “They are coming into top 10 in numbers” of shoppers.
The average American spends six times the average U.K. shopper in the West End in the course of the year, while Middle Eastern and Chinese consumers rank at the top in average money spent per person because of luxury purchases, Tyrrell said.