Luxury stores expect even more far-eastern cash through the tills in coming years
RICH CHINESE tourists spent more than £200M in some of London's most expensive shops during 2010, new figures show.
The bespoke and designer zone around Bond Street, Mount Street, Jermyn Street and Saville Row was the beneficiary of those multi-millions and it is set to gain even more this year from the new tourist wave from the far-east.
"Shops are very aware of the Chinese shopper now," a spokesperson for London Luxury, the trade group representing those streets, told The Telegraph.
"They move their luxury goods to the front of the store to coincide with Chinese New Year or the October National Holiday.”
To help push the retail bonanza, the government is speeding up the visa application process, often tortuous for Chinese tourists. 150,000 visas were granted to Chinese tourists in 2010 and at least 200,000 are expected to be approved this year.
Some famous stores, like Harrods and Selfridges, have responded to the new shoppers by installing Chinese credit card machines and hiring staff who can speak Mandarin.
"Chinese tourists play an integral part in maintaining a buoyant economy in the West End," said Lord Bruce Dundas, head of London Luxury.
Where some of these high-rolling tourists got their money is another matter. A recent survey by China's Renmin University revealed that only 5.3% of people think the country's rich came by their wealth legally.