Apr 4, 2016
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Global tax free shopping spend remained low in February

Apr 4, 2016

Weakening demand in Asia means that low figures in global tax free shopping spend is "the new normal" for the luxury industry, says travel shopping experts Global Blue.

Photo: Global Blue

Global Tax Free Shopping (TFS) spend rose just 2% year-on-year in February, continuing the weak performance seen in January, when it was up 3%. This means growth is back to 2014 levels after significantly higher levels of between 30% and 45% in 2015.

Asian sales are still better than those in Europe, which were down -2%, while TFS sales in Asia rose 10%. Global Blue says key markets in Europe are seeing a decline due to foreign exchange (FX) rates dominating travel decisions, and the ongoing concern of terrorist threats further to the Paris and Brussels attacks. It also mentions that the more complex biometric visa requirements are another negative factor.

France and Germany have the worst TFS sales numbers in Europe - France was down -10% for February (vs -21% in January) and Germany was down -15% in February vs -17% in January.

Global Blue also found that Japan and the UK look to have benefited from increased tourist spending during the week-long Chinese New Year Spring Festival, which fell slightly later than last year, in February. Chinese TFS sales in Japan rose 60% across January and February. In the UK, it was flat at 0% growth in February, but this is an improvement from negative growth of -29% in January. In contrast, France and Germany registered negative Chinese spending growth for both January and February.

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