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Spring Festival bargain hunters flock to Bicester

By ANGUS McNEICE | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-02-09 18:01

It's the week after Lunar New Year and British shopping-mecca Bicester Village is heaving with Chinese tourists laden with bags of discounted designer goods and scrambling to get some last-minute shopping done during the final days of the Spring Festival vacation.

Spring Festival bargain hunters flock to Bicester

Shoppers share a moment in Bicester Village.  

Located in Oxford shire, more than 90 km from central London, the outlet shopping hub is said to be the second-most-visited destination in the UK among Chinese visitors, behind Buckingham Palace.

Around 80 percent of Chinese tourists to England visit the retail park. Recent data provided to China Daily by Bicester Village operator Value Retail shows that China was the top contributing non-EU market at Bicester Village in 2016, representing 41 percent of the total tax-refunded spend. In December, tax-refunded sales to people from China were up by 22 percent year-on-year.

Data for Spring Festival sales is still being collated, but analysts predict a significant year-on-year bump, driven by bargain-hunting "Brexit tourists" taking advantage of favorable exchange rates.

Bicester Village caters to its valued Chinese customers well beyond the outlet's walls. Mandarin signage on display at London's Marylebone station directs passengers to Bicester Village Station. When the train pulls in, Chinese language messages ring out over the intercom, letting shoppers know it is time to disembark.

Most retailers provide services tailored to Chinese shoppers. At Vivienne Westwood, for example, two of the four floor staff speak Mandarin, and the shop accepts Chinese payment system Union Pay at the till. A floor assistant at Ralph Lauren said: "I speak with people in Cantonese every day- being able to speak Cantonese was a big plus in the job interview."

Discounted goods recently taken of the rails at retailers' brick-and-mortar stores, as well as special outlet-only products are available in the shopping village, and, throughout Spring Festival, several of the 130 stores in the retail park offered discounts of up to 20 percent to shoppers who used a special Chinese New Year app.

Carrying marked-down goods from Ralph Lauren, Wendie Ho said Bicester Village is well-known in her native Hong Kong.

Ho said: "Asians love shopping, and with all the brand names you have available here, people are going to come."


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