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Brexit's long-term effects are still to be seen, but the weakening of the pound since the UK's vote to leave the EU is helping push up retail spending by foreign visitors to the UK. According to transaction data from payments processor Worldpay, the value of foreign credit and debit card transactions in the UK surged 22 percent in December 2016 compared to a year earlier.
Overall, foreign visitors spent over £725 million at brick-and-mortar stores in the UK last month, according to Worldpay estimates, up £130 million over December 2015.
London was the biggest beneficiary, with tourists spending 35% more at the capital's high-end boutiques and department stores. Outside of London, retailers in Manchester and Edinburgh saw year-on-year spending by tourists rise by 19% and 24%, respectively.
"The influx of free-spending tourists we saw in December will have been a welcome boost for retailers looking to balance the books," said James Frost, Worldpay's UK CMO.
Visitors from Hong Kong were among the most eager bargain hunters, according to Worldpay, spending an extra 69% in UK stores during December compared to 2015. Spending on cards from China was up by 24%, while visitors from the UAE spent an additional 31%. The amount spent by tourists from France and Germany rose 14%.
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