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Ramadan rush: Mega-rich shoppers descend on London

Saturday, June 28, 2014

LONDON—Before the fast, let there be a shopping feast. From Harrods in Knightsbridge to the glittering diamond stores in Mayfair, London has long attracted big spenders. But every year around the holy month of Ramadan, which starts this weekend, a wave of spectacularly rich Middle Eastern shoppers arrives and takes retail therapy to a whole new level—complete with an entourage of bodyguards, chauffeurs, and Gulf-registered Rolls-Royces and Ferraris flown in just for the occasion.


Retailers call the boost in business the Ramadan Rush: a hugely lucrative and fast-growing market driven by wealthy Arabs who travel to Britain to escape the desert heat and indulge in buying luxury gifts before flying home for a month of fasting. Another surge takes place during the Eid holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan.


The spike in shoppers during the summer months has been so regular and noticeable on London's streets that some have jokingly dubbed the phenomenon the Harrods Hajj, after the traditional Islamic pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.