As the surge in international tax free spend of 99% across Piccadilly for November is reported by Global Blue, leading visitor destinations, such as The Ritz London have reported a major bookings rush for December as visitors look to secure their Christmas experience in the iconic destination.

The first retail weekend of the festive season, 2-4 December, saw footfall in Piccadilly and St James’s surge by 5.1% on the same period last year, whilst over the first full trading week, 5-11 December, more than 550,000 visitors explored the area, up +9% on last year.

Ros Morgan, Chief Executive for Heart of London Business Alliance says the area’s iconic location attracts visitors throughout the year, but Christmas is particularly appealing because of the rich festive experience local businesses combined have on offer.

“There is no place quite like the heart of London to celebrate Christmas and our members’ experience this year is testament to this” Ms Morgan says. “Our diverse offering of dining, shopping, cultural and leisure activity has cemented our area as a world-class destination and, in turn, we continue to enjoy the diverse mix of visitors.

Ms Morgan adds: “The heart of London will continue as a leading Christmas destination on international and local visitors’ itineraries, thanks to the commitment of our local businesses, who we expect will reap the benefits of increased footfall on their bottom line.”

Andrew Love, Deputy Chairman of The Ritz London says: “Christmas at The Ritz is an iconic time of year, and the hotel’s palatial exterior and opulent Louis XVI interior is sprinkled with sparkle throughout the festive season. The centre-piece is a 25 foot Nordic pine Christmas tree in our Lobby, grown especially for The Ritz in the Scottish Highlands, creating a wonderful and welcoming atmosphere to delight all of our guests. This festive season to date, we have experienced a 14% increase in bookings on last year in our Ritz Restaurant, having just been awarded a Michelin star for the first time, and our room reservations have seen at 12.5% increase.”

Julian Bird, Chief Executive of Society of London Theatre says: “Visitors from across the UK and the world are flocking to the West End this Christmas to experience the incredible array of spectacular new productions and internationally acclaimed long-running shows. From thought-provoking drama to classic pantomimes and astounding dance shows, there is something for everyone in the West End. 2016 has been an incredible year for theatre in London and we’re delighted that audiences continue to respond so enthusiastically”.

Gordon Clark, Global Blue Managing Director of UK & Ireland says: “Our international tax free spend data for November shows a continued uplift in spend across Piccadilly at 133% compared with the same period last year. Christmas is a key calendar moment for retail tourism in London and the iconic tourist destination of Piccadilly has much festive appeal with its shopping attraction to overseas visitors. Chinese visitors account for the largest portion of spend in the area and as Christmas approaches their November spend has increased by 222% compared with last year – indicating the growing popularity of Piccadilly as a festive shopping destination.”