We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. You can change this and find out more by following this link

Asia update: No September slowdown as Asian TFS rockets

Tax Free Shopping (TFS) sales performance in Asia showed no sign of slowing in September, a historically quiet month for region. We examine Global Blue's September data to discover which countries and nationalities drove this exceptional performance.


  • TFS sales growth in Asia continued during September, up +39% year-on-year
  • Singapore remained in double digit growth, with sales up +11% in September
  • Japan experienced exceptional growth of +80% as both transactions and average spend increased


Asia continued to post strong TFS growth figures in September, up +39% against 2016 figures. Historically one of the quietest months for international retail spend in Asia, September 2017 saw transactions across the region rocket by +14% year-on-year and average spend rise by +22%.

Solid growth for Singapore

Singapore continued its strong performance, with year-on-year sales growing by +11%. This performance was driven by healthy transaction growth of +8% and a modest rise in average spend, up +3% year-on-year.

Singapore also benefitted from a number of exceptional transactions made by high net worth Globe Shoppers, with a relatively small number of transactions helping to drive up average spend.

Japanese TFS boom continues

Japanese TFS sales (+80% year-on-year) continued to drive the lion’s share of regional growth during September, driven by a +44% increase in transactions and a +25% rise in average spend.

The ongoing softening of the yen against the Chinese yuan, maintained excellent conditions for Chinese Globe Shoppers visiting Japan. The country also continued to benefit from Korea’s challenging political situation and remains the main beneficiary of visits from diverted Chinese Globe Shopper’s and their subsequent TFS spend.

With huge investment in retail and many flagship stores benefitting from overhauls as the country heads towards the Olympic games, Japan is an increasingly easy market for foreign tourists to shop in. However, with travel agencies in at least 14 tier two Chinese cities announcing caps on tour groups to Japan, growth in subsequent months could be more modest.

Key nationalities grow

All leading Asian Globe Shopper nationalities posted strong performance during September.

  • Chinese sales increased by +62%, driven by a sharp rise in average spend and a solid (+21%) increase in transactions across the region.
  • Despite a small fall in transaction volume (-3%), Malaysian sales grew by an impressive +42% as average spend growth rocketed due to a number of high value transactions in neighbouring Singapore.
  • Globe Shoppers from South Korea (+21%), Hong Kong (+16%), Taiwan (+12%) and Indonesia (+12%) all saw double digit growth, thanks to healthy mix of transactions and average spend growth.


High value spend rises

September capped a successful Q3 in Asia, with Globe Shoppers from China, Indonesia and Hong Kong in particular driving high-value spend growth as the luxury sector continues to perform strongly.

During Q3, Singapore saw solid increases in transactions above 5,000SGD from Chinese (+30%) and Indonesian (+13%) Globe Shoppers as valuable, high net worth tourists visited the city-state.

Japan also experienced rapid high-value growth throughout the quarter, with an increase in transactions between 200,000JPY and 400,000 JPY from Chinese (+131%) and Hong Kongese (+97%) Globe Shoppers.