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Europe update: Russians and Americans return

European Tax Free Shopping (TFS) sales continue to grow in August, yet at a slightly slower rate than previous months due to a number of macro factors including a strong Euro and high base of comparison in August 2016. Russian and American Globe Shoppers provided strong sales growth across most destinations.


  • European TFS spend grows by +4% year-on-year during August, with the strength of the euro slows the pace of growth across the continent
  • Chinese sales growth slows slightly during August, while Russian and American continue to growth healthily
  • Transactions growth remained flat year-on-year, while average spend increased by +4%

Strong Euro limits regional growth

The strengthening of the euro against all currencies, impacted spend across the continent during August, with TFS sales increasing by a modest +4% year-on-year (versus calendar year-to-date sales of +14%). Performance was also hampered by an extremely high base of comparison with August 2016, when the TFS market began to recover after a challenging first half of the year.

Spain saw the strongest growth at +15% year-on-year, while France (+5%) and the United Kingdom (+8%) experienced soiled sales growth last month. German sales-in-store fell by -14% during August (year-on-year) due to continued shifting travel patterns from Chinese visitors.

Barcelona attack sees limited impact

August’s terror attack in Barcelona caused a temporary slowdown in Spanish TFS sales growth, with sales static at +0% in the week immediately after the attack. However, the following week, saw sales back to significant, double digit growth of +41%. This mirrors performance around similar European attacks and shows the limited impact of such incidents on TFS performance.

Chinese growth slows during August

While overall TFS sales from Chinese Globe Shoppers saw a slight increase during August (+1% year-on-year), transactions saw a small year-on-year decrease of -3%. This is in part due to lower arrival figures and a high base of comparison with August 2016, which saw huge volumes of Chinese Globe Shoppers visiting the continent. Average spend growth was also limited by the continued strengthening of the euro against the Chinese yuan.

Russian roulette

Russian Globe Shoppers emerged as a strong growth engine in Europe last month. Across all European destinations, Russians spend increased by more than 25% compared to August 2016. All growth was delivered through an increase number of travellers and transactions. Fashion remains the most popular category with Russian Globe Shoppers, capturing more than 60% of TFS spend.

American Globe Shoppers also performed well during August, with TFS sales across all European destinations up +17% year-on-year. Performance was driven fairly evenly by both average spend and transaction growth.