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Singapore: the next global trendsetter?

A change in traveller mix, governmental initiatives to encourage tourist spending and a strong Watch and Jewellery offer are shaking up Singapore’s TFS business.

There is no stopping Singapore TFS growth. Against last year’s strong competitive base, the island country already registers a +5% growth of its sales in store number during Q1 2018, boosted by the strong performance of Chinese New Year in February (+12%). Some great news for a market highly oriented towards luxury.

New dynamics explained

In terms of nationalities the country is witnessing a change to its traveller mix. For the first quarter of 2018, Chinese Globe Shoppers represent 41% of Singapore’s total sales in store and hold on to their status as the island’s TFS growth engine.

Indeed, over the past few years, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has multiplied its partnerships with Chinese international payment players (Alipay) or social media mastodons (WeChat) to enhance the country’s image as an attractive tourism destination for Chinese Globe Shoppers. The recent partnership inked between the STB and Ctrip, China’s largest Online Travel Agency (OTA), has stimulated further incoming flux of Chinese Globe Shoppers from tier 2 cities especially. Yet with a lower shopping budget, their impact on the volume of transactions in Singapore remains quite limited.

Indonesians Globe Shoppers are Singapore’s second biggest market during the first quarter of 2018. Yet, a softer Indonesian Rupiah against the Singapore Dollar means Indonesian Globe Shoppers are reducing their spending by posting a -11% decline of their sales number and dragging down TFS results in the country. 

Nonetheless, this overall traffic reduction is fully compensated by other nationalities positive performance. With Malaysians first of all, which on top of a very strong base still post +10% in transaction numbers and Vietnamese whose sales number increases +3% on the same period. In parallel, increasing number of affluent Globe Shoppers travelling to the island contributes to increase the average spend per transaction, +8% during the first quarter of 2018, the equivalent of 735 euros.

Watch and Jewellery category on the clock

For the first months of 2018, the overall dynamic is positive across all categories. The Leather Goods & Bags and Watch & Jewellery (W&J) categories perform well on the back of Chinese Globe Shoppers sustained performance.

Singapore is highly dependent on the W&J category which accounts for 37% of share of spend during Q1 2018, far before Fashion at 22% and Leather Goods & bags at 18%. The Singaporean W&J category is a strong competitor to Europe’s own market and follows the same dynamic with the number of transactions above 50,0000 SGD increasing during Q1 2018 by +15%, while the number of transactions below 50,000 SGD decreases.

Attracting more affluent Globe Shoppers

While infrequent travellers are coming in large numbers to Singapore posting 1 to 2 TFS transactions maximum, Singapore’s TFS business dynamic is largely driven by the Elite – with Frequent travellers pushing the number of transactions and Elite Globe Shoppers pushing the value of the market.

In a global context, where competition grows fierce between Singapore and its nearby neighbours (Jakarta, Bangkok for luxury shopping), a smooth TFS system is crucial to encourage spending and maintain the interest of high-spending Globe Shoppers. The island country can already rely on its highly efficient, all digital eTRS (Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme) to post an impressive refund ratio number and over the last few years, Global Blue has been working on building close relationships with brands and malls to promote TFS locally.