Watch retailers must do more to capture lucrative Chinese tourism trade, report claims


Luxury watch retailers in the UK have benefitted from a boost in sales driven by Chinese tourists and students, despite lack of effort to capture this growing market.

According to a report by Deloitte, spending in the UK by visitors from China has increased by 50% over the last two years as a result of a rise in the annual number of visas issued to Chinese nationals. It is estimated that the amount of visas issued will continue to grow.


While watch retailers and brands are benefitting from Chinese tourists, the report from Deloitte found that the visitors themselves are looking for luxury pieces not available in China and are frustrated by the lack of readily attainable information to assist them.

A spokesperson for the brand stated: “The high spending Chinese demographic that dominates the tourist market are millennials. They seek out new models and sellers of high quality classically influenced designs they can make their own, and showcase on Chinese social media.

“The popularity of Downton Abbey and the Kingsman film series have helped create an appreciation for high quality goods and experiences that are based on traditional design influences.”

The report also highlighted that Chinese students offer watch retailers and brands an opportunity to cash in. Deloitte identified that the 95,000 Chinese have an average monthly disposable income of £1,500, and they are personal buying guides for wealthy relatives that visit the UK. On average parents visit 3.3 times per year.

The report stated: “For retailers what works extraordinarily well is creating a small themed backdrop for Chinese customers to have their picture taken in front of.

“Such facilities are very popular, and because there are so few in the UK they can be an attraction in their own right. Those not intending to buy visit and become customers, but more importantly stores become widely known.”

The report also noted that sellers that are new to the Chinese market are able to benefit as millennial shoppers are more willing to try something new that isn’t saturated within the market.

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