Chinese tax free shopping slowed in Q1
New research from tax free shopping provider Global Blue has revealed that March saw global Chinese tax free shopping spend drop into negative growth, falling 24% year-on-year.
In contrast, spend grew by 11% in January and 5% in February. The UK was hit particularly hard in March, with a 30% drop in Chinese tax free shopping spend seen in the month, which resulted in a 21% decline over Q1. Chinese shoppers account for a fifth of UK Tax Free Shopping sales, but they prefer France, Germany and Italy over the UK.
Gordon Clark, MD UK and Ireland at Global Blue, comments, "We are experiencing a decline in Chinese spend this year, with the UK being particularly hit following the introduction of Schengen biometric visa requirements for Chinese travellers in October 2015 and in the associations with the terrorist attacks on Europe. However, this is the first decline we are seeing following years of continual growth and China still drives the highest number of Tax Free Sales in our stores. In a difficult climate, it is imperative to optimise the opportunity and experience for these shoppers to spend, and brands need to take action now ahead of the key May holiday period to market their brands correctly in China and to also make sure the guest experience for a Chinese traveler is the best possible when shopping within their stores."
Chinese shoppers remain the largest tax free shopping market and account for a third of global sales. For 2016, 81% of Chinese tourists plan to shop when they travel. The average shopping budget will be €3,544 (25,902CNY) per trip to Europe and €2,517 (18,398CNY) per trip to Asia.
Global Blue also found that May 2016 (Labour Day in China is May 1-4) is expected to be the most popular month for travel to Europe, Japan and South Korea, while October 2016 (China's Golden Week is October 1-7) will be popular for visits to other Asia-Pacific destinations, such as Australia and Singapore.
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