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Asia update: record breaking TFS growth

Global Blue’s Asian Tax Free Shopping (TFS) sales grew substantially during August, with Japan and Singapore both experiencing double digit growth. High Chinese Globe Shopper confidence and a softening yen created excellent conditions for TFS, despite the continuing troubles on the Korean peninsula.


  • Asian TFS sales growth hits a new record high for the last 24 months, up +34% year-on-year
  • Increased Chinese confidence and a softening yen fuelled Japan’s exceptional sales growth of +86% year-on-year
  • Singapore remains in double digit growth, with year-on-year sales up by +12% last month


After an exceptional July, which saw regional sales grow by +30% year-on-year, Asia experienced an even stronger month during August, with year-on-year sales increasing by +34%.

This stellar performance can largely be attributed to increased economic confidence in China, which is driving up both average spend and transactions from Chinese Globe Shoppers in Japan and Singapore. Transactions across the region increased by +9%, despite continued pressure on Korea’s TFS industry, while average spend increased by an impressive +22%.

Double digit growth for Globe Shopper nationalities

With the exception of Japan, which is feeling the effects of a softening yen, Globe Shoppers from all key Asian nationalities performed strongly during August, experiencing high double digit sales growth.

  • Chinese calendar year-to-date sales grew by +52% across the region. This was driven by both transaction growth and a strong increase in average spend as confidence in China’s domestic economy saw Globe Shoppers travelling in larger numbers, increasing spend and staying abroad longer.
  • While the domestic situation in Korea remains tense, Korean Globe Shoppers continue to spend large amounts of time and money outside the country. Year-on-year sales were up by +37% during August, as wealthy Koreans continued to travel internationally in large numbers.
  • Globe Shoppers from Hong Kong (+27%), Taiwan (+26%) and Indonesia (+23%) all posted significant growth of transactions for the month of August.


Weaker yen makes Japan highly attractive

August saw Japanese TFS sales increase by a stellar +86% year-on-year, driven by a +52% increase in TFS transactions and a +23% rise in average spend.

The continued month-on-month softening against the Chinese yuan, is providing the perfect conditions for Chinese Globe Shoppers visiting Japan. While recent months have seen number of transactions from Chinese visitors grow significantly (up +53% CYTD*), this FX trend could see an accompanying rise in average spend in the coming months.

While China is Japan’s main TFS benefactor, accounting for over three quarters of sales, Globe Shoppers from all key Asian markets contributed to Japanese TFS growth in August. Calendar year to date TFS sales from Koreans were up +43%, while Globe Shoppers from Taiwan (+17%) and Hong Kong (+13%) also increased sales.

Healthy growth in Singapore

Singapore continued its strong 2017 performance, with year-on-year sales up by +12%. This performance was driven by strong transaction growth of +9% and a healthy rise in average spend, up +3% year-on-year.  Chinese Globe Shoppers in Singapore had a significant impact on TFS sales across all spend intervals. Sales of lower value purchases (under 1000 SGD) from Chinese visitors grew by +7% CYTD, while higher value transitions (3000-5000 SGD) increased by 17% CYTD.

*Calendar year to date