Spending by Chinese and Asian travellers continues to rise at luxury shopping outlets across Europe.
According to designer outlets developer McArthurGlen Group, total tax-free sales by Chinese shoppers at its 29 locations across Europe rose 270 per cent in the past two years (2012 and 2013). Chinese visitors now account for more than 20 per cent of all tax-free sales at McArthurGlen Designer Outlets, and they spend eight times more than the average shopper – a figure that rises to a factor of 10 at the flagship Italian centres.
Shoppers from Southeast Asia and South Korea also recorded impressive sales growth last year.
Shopping for fashion items is the most popular holiday activity after sightseeing, and visiting museums and art galleries, according to a McArthurGlen survey of Chinese travellers in Europe. Around one in three Chinese tourists visiting Europe over a 12-month period, rising to two-thirds when considering just those who went shopping for fashion, visited a designer outlet village.
The brand mix is the most important factor for choosing an outlet center, together with customer service and accessibility, and a desirable shopping atmosphere, it says.
New trends are also emerging. Previously, most visitors from China to McArthurGlen’s Designer Outlets arrived from Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, but increasing numbers are now travelilng to the centers in Europe from second-tier Chinese cities, where incomes have been rising and interest in designer labels is strong.
This greater dispersion of shopping tourist source markets is also a noticeable trend from other emerging Asian markets.
In addition to big spending by Chinese visitors, travellers from Southeast Asia and South Korea are proving to be avid luxury shoppers. In 2013, visitors from Thailand spent 52 per cent more at McArthurGlen’s Designer Outlets than in 2012, while Malaysian spending increased 48 per cent.
Indonesian travellers spent 23 per cent more last year, closely followed by Singapore (up 22 per cent) and South Korea (up 18 per cent).
“We see travellers from China and Southeast Asia as being the markets that will drive the future growth of our tourism business,” says Julia Calabrese, CEO of McArthurGlen Group.
“From our experience, the Chinese love to shop for fashions for themselves and family and friends when they travel. They look to buy that sought-after European luxury brand when in Europe, while, at the same time, avoiding the steep import duties back home. It’s about providing an authentic shopping experience at bargain prices.”