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Chinese embrace London's Boxing Day sales

By Diao Ying in London | China Daily | Updated: 2012-12-27 07:12

Chinese embrace London's Boxing Day sales

Long lines in front of the Selfridges department store in London's shopping mecca of Oxford Street. People started to line up around 6 am on Wednesday, Boxing Day. Xie Songxin / China Daily

There are many ways to spend the Christmas holiday, and for many people, shopping is number one.

Wang Ke, a student at Westminster University, was at London's shopping district at 7:30 am the day after Christmas, only to find herself at the end of a long line in front of Selfridges, the high-end department store in west London.

"I got up at 4:30 am," said the 23-year-old. But she admitted she is not the earliest riser - some of her friends stayed up all night to make sure they got to the sales on time.

Dec 26 is known as Boxing Day in the United Kingdom, when many stores offer sales and huge discounts. This year, not surprisingly, Chinese shoppers are fueling the buying spree.

According to Global Blue, the agency that calculates Christmas spending, Chinese shoppers are one of the strongest growth nationalities in London's West End. They are attracted to the West End by the mixture of flagship stores, designer and luxury brands, it said.

Chinese shoppers are the top spenders across all three main shopping streets, including Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street. Most of the stores in these areas have Chinese speaking guides, as well as UnionPay terminals to help Chinese customers use their bank cards from China.

At Selfridges, some of the stores are so popular they were unable to allow all the customers in at the same time. People had to line up, sometimes for an hour, to get in. The longest lines were in front of luxury fashion boutiques Prada and Burberry. And both lines were mainly comprised of Chinese shoppers.

Most Chinese shoppers were young people in their early 20s. In the Burberry store, boys posed in front of the mirrors, trying on coats or checking out the brand's trademark square scarf.

Some were accompanied by their parents. One family arrived with a huge black shopping trolley. The father went shopping with his daughter while the mother rested on a bench. Then they swapped positions, with the father resting and the mother continuing to shop.

The average spending per transaction for Chinese shoppers is more than 1,000 pounds ($1,615), according to data compiled by Global Blue. It is estimated that London's West End will net 50 million pounds ($80.73 million) on Boxing Day.

"The growth in the number of Chinese tourists visiting our shops has increased at the fastest rate, compared with other nationalities," said a spokesman for John Lewis, another department store in the West End. He said sales at John Lewis to Chinese tourists have increased by 70 percent in the year to date.



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