China duty-free push

Nineteen inbound China duty-free shops have opened to serve domestic travellers returning home.

The state’s Ministry of Finance announced the stores have been built in 13 airports including Guangzhou Baiyun, Hangzhou Xiaoshan and Qingdao Liuting, as well as six sea ports.
Passengers can carry up to 8000 yuan ($1230) worth of duty-free goods, up from the previous 5000-yuan limit, when clearing customs, the ministry said, claiming that the shops feature more products than existing inbound duty-free outlets.

Meanwhile, Reuters quotes Tokyo retailers as saying that Chinese tourists spent less in their shops during the latest Lunar New Year holidays, blaming a stronger yen and slower economic growth at home.

Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings says its stores served about 50 per cent more international duty-free shoppers from February 7 to 13 compared with the same holiday week last year, thanks to a spike from mainland China – but customer spend was 15 per cent less this time.

Visitors from mainland China doubled to five million, helping Japan’s overall tourist numbers reach nearly 20 million – a target the government had hoped to achieve by 2020.

Shopping by Chinese tourists at department stores and electronics shops last year created a buzzword, “bakugai”, or “explosive buying”, and came as a boon for Japanese retailers smarting from decades of sluggish demand from domestic consumers. However, China’s economy has since sagged to a 25-year low, with stock markets slumping mid-year.

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