China tops tax free shopping rankings

The Chinese remain the world’s biggest spenders on tax free shopping according to new rankings released by Global Blue.

Travellers originating from China spent 18 per cent more in 2014 than the previous year, extended their lead over Russians whose spending fell 17 per cent in wake of the rouble’s dramatic devaluation.

Global Blue, a specialist in international tax free shopping, operating duty refund concessions, runs a research unit monitoring duty free spending trends around the world. The company says China and Russia are by far the most lucrative countries of origin for globe shoppers, with Chinese shoppers now accounting for one third of all tax free shopping spend globally. Chinese residents account for 30 per cent of spending and Russians 14 per cent. It’s a long way back to the US, which accounts for just four per cent (perhaps reflecting while the US economy is massive, its citizens rarely travel internationally).

Indonesia is a surprising fourth accounting for three per cent, then Japan with two per cent.  Five of the top 10 nationalities increased their Tax Free Shopping spend by more than 15 per cent in 2014 – Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Almost half of purchases were related to fashion and clothing – by far the largest category globally – followed by watches and jewellery at 17 per cent.

“Clearly we are entering a new normal in terms of Tax Free Shopping growth, however it is important to remember that for the seventh consecutive year Chinese globe shoppers are still the biggest spending nationality, spending on average 736 euros per transaction,” said David Baxby, Global Blue’s CEO.

Top 10 Shopper Nations in 2014, with growth vs. 2013:

1 China  +18%

2 Russia -17%

3 USA +8%

4 Indonesia -10%

5 Japan -12%

6 Taiwan +29%

7 Hong Hong +25%

8 Thailand -10%

9 Saudi Arabia +15%

10 Kuwait +18%

Exchange rates impact

Fuelling the spending growth of residents of Taiwan, Hong Kong and China in 2014 was a good exchange rate against the euro, which continues to improve with little sign of a forecasted EU economic recovery.

“Essentially residents of these countries are getting better and better value compared to shopping at home with every month that passes. In 2014, the number of Chinese transactions increased by a significant 38 per cent,” said the report.

While spending by Russian residents may be down, there are always new nations emerging. Storming into sixth place, Taiwan recorded an enormous 29 per cent growth compared to 2013. The emergence of Taiwanese globe shoppers was not just felt in Asia – they also made their presence felt in Europe’s leading destinations.

During October 2014 in Paris, Taiwanese were the fourth most valuable tourist nation growing their spending by 15 per cent year-on-year, while in November they grew their spending by 65 per cent.

At this rate, Global Blue predicts their spending will overtake that of the Japanese in 2015.

In Seoul, fast becoming the shopping honey pot of Southeast Asia, Taiwanese grew their spending by 25 per cent in October and were outspent only by the Chinese. In November they grew their spending in Seoul by 30 per cent and in December by 44 per cent.

Meanwhile, Paris topped the list of cities for spending by all nationalities, ahead of London, with Singapore the highest placed Asian city in third. Seoul was sixth, the only other Asian destination in the top 10.



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