mideast

LONDON (AP) – Prior to the fast, let there be a shopping feast.

From Harrods in Knightsbridge to the glittering diamond stores in Mayfair, London has actually long drawn in huge spenders. But every year around the holy month of Ramadan, which starts this weekend, a wave of marvelously rich Middle Eastern buyers shows up and takes window shopping to an entire brand-new level – total with an entourage of bodyguards, drivers, and Gulf-registered Rolls-Royces and Ferraris flown in just for the occasion.

Retailers call the boost in business the Ramadan Rush: An extremely financially rewarding and fast-growing market driven by rich Arabs who travel to Britain to run away the desert heat and enjoy purchasing luxury presents before flying house for a month of fasting and increased religious observance. Another surge occurs during the Eid holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan.

The spike in buyers during the summer season has actually been so regular and noticeable on London’s streets that some have jokingly referred to the phenomenon the ‘Harrods Hajj,’ after the standard Islamic trip to the holy city of Mecca.

‘London is the place in Europe where the Middle Eastern site visitor stores one of the most. It’s virtually their second home,’ stated Gordon Clark, U.K. manager at International Blue, the Switzerland-based retail study firm. The company estimates that pre-Ramadan sales last July jumped 60 percent compared to the previous year.

Although travelers from the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar comprise only a little percentage of overall check outs to Britain compared with those from the U.S. and Europe, they’ve the tendency to be much more luxurious spenders usually. Official figures show that Middle Eastern travelers ranked just 19th in regards to varieties of people last year, however came second in overall spend – 888 million pounds ($1.5 billion).

The Kuwaitis are the greatest spenders, spending some 1,340 pounds ($2,275) per deal last July, Clark said.

That corresponds with information from the London Luxury Quarter, a group that represents a few of the highest-end businesses in main London. It stated the typical invest from Middle Eastern shoppers last year came just behind the Chinese, its top customers. Unsurprisingly, the best sellers are unique designer bags and shoes, watches and fashion jewelry, though a Harrods spokeswoman said food gifts like luxury fruit baskets and extravagantly packaged dates and cocoa-dusted almonds also sell briskly.

Ramadan falls on the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Muslims around the world quick from dawn to sunset for a month, beginning from Saturday.

The weeks surrounding the month offer retailers an opportunity they can’t afford to miss, and many brands have actually responded to the trend by presenting VIP services simply for the period.

‘We’ve actually been dealing with luxury sellers who offer unique items during pre-Ramadan,’ stated Myf Ryan, marketing director at west London’s Westfield shopping mall. ‘Dior has limited-edition exotic skin purses, and Louis Vuitton and Burberry are providing private customer service.’

The Westfield shopping center – among Europe’s largest – wishes to generate record sales with the assistance of additional Arabic-speaking concierges and individual licensed operators. For the really prolific consumers, there’s a ‘hands-free’ service, which includes helpers who gather the shopping bags and assist pack them in the vehicle.

Other multicultural cities, such as Paris or Dubai, likewise see their share of pre-Ramadan shopping. But experts state London has actually become the favorite destination.

Language is one factor – most of the consumers can talk English. However that’s just part of it.

‘London has got the cultural aspects, the history, and it’s a splendidly inclusive city to check out,’ Ryan said. ‘The temperature’s comfortable. And because the Middle Eastern consumer is so essential, hotels and the tourism industry are likewise really proficient at making them comfy.’

All that could leave the average British or American consumer feeling a bit overlooked. However the Ramadan Rush does bring one direct benefit to the masses: Earlier sales. Numerous of Britain’s outlet store and fashion brands have actually been adjusting their summer season sales schedule to see to it the high-stakes gamblers get to go shopping new stock when they show up.

‘They are not attracted to sales, because the shops are too hectic,’ Clark said. ‘It’s not an excellent shopping experience for them.’

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Follow Sylvia Hui at www.Twitter.com/sylviahui

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