MANCHESTER'S students have the potential to inject nearly £1 billion into the city’s retail economy each year, according to new figures.

Chinese students offer a huge opportunity for Manchester retailers as they are known to shop for high end items in the UK to avoid the luxury tax at home.

The National Union of Students (NUS) revealed Manchester's students spend an average £177 a week on retail expenses and a quarter of freshers’ wardrobes are worth more than £2,000.

With Manchester’s 100,000 strong student population, their spending habits are set to boost local retailers throughout the academic year.

Student Takeover, ArndaleStudent Takeover, Arndale

The results were announced after thousands of students flooded into Manchester city centre on Tuesday 30 September as part of the Student Takeover shopping event, where they can enjoy special offers and discounts.

With the continued success of Manchester Arndale’s ‘Big Student Night In’ over the last decade, the shopping centre and the Heart of Manchester Business Improvement District (BID) collaborated for the first time to extend the event right across the city centre.

The event gave retailers a notable hike in earnings. 

Manchester Arndale witnessed a 12.2% increase in footfall, while House of Fraser experienced a 20% uplift compared to the same time last year and Harvey Nichols saw a 38% uplift between 4pm and 9pm.

Student Takeover event, ArndaleStudent Takeover, Arndale

Jane Sharrocks, Heart of Manchester BID Chair and General Manager at Selfridges Exchange Square, said of the student event:

Manchester has the largest student population outside of London, so it was a logical move for retailers to collaborate on an event to showcase the city’s diverse retail offer from luxury brands, popular with international students, to popular high street names and independent boutiques.

This is the largest collaborative student event the city has ever put on and we’ll be looking to grow it next year to see it become an integral part of the Fresher’s Week calendar."

The boost to Manchester retailers looks set to continue into October as international students and their visiting families spend more across city centre stores as part of Chinese Golden Week celebrations (1-7 October).

According to retail tourism guide Global Blue, Chinese students offer a huge opportunity for Manchester retailers as they are known to shop high end items in the UK to avoid the luxury tax at home. 

The University of Manchester is the most popular university in the UK for Chinese students and Chinese shoppers account for 50% of international spend in Manchester, spending an average of £677 in the city.

Chinese spend saw year-on-year growth of 29% in Manchester last year and with the influx of students as one factor, the growth is expected to continue.

Student Takeover, ArndaleStudent Takeover, Arndale

Gordon Clark, UK Country Manager at Global Blue said:

“Chinese Golden Week is a hugely important time for retailers as thousands of visiting Chinese flock to stores in search of their favourite brand, which can be up to 30% cheaper to buy in the UK, even before they have claimed back their tax free refunds.

"To maximise the potential of this market, retailers should introduce tax free shopping facilities to encourage higher spend and accommodate these shoppers by introducing multilingual staff and marketing materials, offering China Union Pay acceptance and aiding staff with cultural sales training to cater to specific shopper needs.”