Chinese tourists set to boost region’s retailers
Tills will be ringing across the North West in the build-up to Christmas, with more than 22,000 visitors due to jet in on direct flights from both Beijing and Hong Kong during December.
Retailers say they are bracing themselves for their highest sales volumes from Chinese tourists, who are also attracted to the North by high profile Premier League fixtures and the Manchester Christmas Markets.
Just one example, McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Cheshire Oaks has seen Chinese Group visitors up by 57% (Jan-Oct 2017 vs Jan-Oct 2016) and Chinese tax-free sales rose 26% (Jan-Sep 2017 vs Jan-Sep 2016).
McArthurGlen Group’s sales and marketing team in China works closely with international travel trade and industry partners to ensure that McArthurGlen Cheshire Oaks and Manchester are included in their itineraries when travelling to the UK.
On average, groups spend over three hours at the centre, with McArthurGlen Cheshire Oaks home to over 145 international high street, premium and designer brands.
The centre offers in-centre tax-free refunds and multi-lingual resources are available at the centre. As well as this, many of the stores employ multi-lingual staff to provide the most enjoyable customer experience.
For key cultural events such as Chinese New Year and Golden Week, McArthurGlen Cheshire Oaks’ brand partners produce limited edition products and offer additional discounts and in-store events to celebrate.
Kenny Murray, Centre Manager, McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Cheshire Oaks, said: “Chinese visitors account for around 50% of all tax-free sales and have an average transaction value of £210.
“For the past 12 rolling months, tax-free sales have increased by 35% and by 195% in the last four years. We have also welcomed three additional familiarisation trips, facilitated by the direct flights.”
In Manchester city centre, upmarket departments stores Selfridges and Harvey Nichols have also significantly benefited form an influx of shoppers, as has intu Trafford Centre.
From 1st December Cathay Pacific will be increasing its direct service to Hong Kong to a daily flight. During the winter months Hainan Airlines operates a three-a-week service direct to Beijing.
The anticipated boost in visitors comes after a pioneering report revealed that the Far East connections are delivering a significant economic reward, or ‘China Dividend’, to the Northern Powerhouse.
The study, on the Beijing route’s 12 months of service, is the most comprehensive analysis ever undertaken into the economic and social impact of a brand new direct, long haul route between two countries.
It has revealed that the Manchester-Beijing air route has driven a significant increase in exports, inward investment, and international student numbers into the North.
Andrew Cowan, CEO of Manchester Airport, said: “The new Beijing route from Manchester is the perfect demonstration of how direct long-haul flights bring significant benefits to the whole of the North by connecting it directly to the world economy.
“The China Dividend report revealed that the new route has delivered a huge boost to the visitor economy in the North, with thousands of visitors arriving into Manchester Airport every month.
“We know the region has an array of excellent retail centres, coupled with world class sporting and cultural attractions, and they are certainly proving popular with the Chinese passengers travelling on our two direct services.”
At Manchester Airport, staff have also been trained in Mandarin as part of the airport’s onsite education academy.
Since 2015, more than 200 people have taken the course - which trains in Mandarin as well as Chinese etiquette and culture. This year alone 47 course participants have found employment within the airport.