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LONG LIVE LUXURY: Shoppers from Saudi Arabia are the single biggest foreign consumers of luxury goods in central London, according to a report issued by the New West End Company, which represents businesses in and around Mayfair and Oxford Circus. Saudi Arabians spend an average of 1,974 pounds, or $3,158, on luxury goods each time they visit London, the New West End said Monday, citing statistics from Global Blue, the organization behind Tax Free Shopping. Visitors from Kuwait came in a close second, with an average spend of 1,780 pounds, or $2,848, and those from Nigeria came third, splashing out 1,648 pounds, or $2,637, per visit. Other countries in the top list of consumers include China, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Russia and Hong Kong.

The New West End report said 2 billion pounds, or $3.2 billion, is spent each year on luxury goods in London’s West End, which includes Bond Street, Jermyn Street, Savile Row and Mount Street. According to the commercial real estate adviser CB Richard Ellis, there is currently a zero void rate — no empty shops — on Bond Street, and demand is outstripping availability. “Despite virtually nonexistent void rates, the potential to grow the area is strong, with an imbalance in the demand for luxury and the space to supply,” said Jonathan De Mello, head of retail consultancy at the firm.

Meanwhile, luxury spending in the West End has surpassed pre-downturn levels, according to American Express Business Insights, the consulting arm of American Express. “Since 2007, the West End has seen growth in luxury spending of 14 percent. It has maintained this momentum in the first quarter of this year, with growth up 11 percent, despite a difficult economic climate,” said Sujata Bhatia, vice president of American Express Business Insights. He said luxury spending by international travelers is up 19 percent year-on-year in 2010.

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