Asia update: July TFS growth hits 24-month high

Global Blue’s Asian Tax Free Shopping sales grew strongly during July, with the regional performance hitting a 24-month high. Despite continuing difficulty for the Korean tourism industry, Japan and Singapore TFS sales remain extremely healthy, contributing to a regional boom during July.


  • Asian TFS sales growth hits a 24-month high in July, up +30% year-on-year
  • Japan’s exceptional growth of +68% driven by increased transactions and higher spend, as yen continues to soften
  • Singapore experienced best performance of 2017, with year-on-year sales up by +14%

Asian Tax Free Shopping (TFS) performance hit a 24-month high, with sales-in-store growing +30% year-on-year against July 2016 figures. Transactions across the region increased by +8%, despite continued pressure on Korea’s TFS sector, while average spend increased by an impressive +21%.

Japanese TFS booms as yen softens

The strong performance of the Japanese TFS sector continued in July, thanks largely to the softening of the yen against the Chinese yuan, which made the country even more attractive to Chinese Globe Shoppers. Year-on-year transactions increased by +41%, with visits further boosted by diverted tourist traffic from Korea, as the peninsula continues to struggle with political tension.

While Chinese spend growth across all retail categories was high, the fastest growth (+56% calendar year-to-date) came from higher value transactions between JPY 400,000 and JPY 600,000 (approx. EUR 3100 to EUR 4,650).

Luxury drives spend in Singapore

Singapore experienced its best performance in many months, with year-on-year sales up by +14%. This performance was driven by strong transaction growth of +10% and a healthy rise in average spend, up +4% year-on-year. Calendar year-to-date sales also increased across every spend category during July, demonstrating a healthy mix of inbound traffic.

Singapore saw further growth in the Watches and Jewellery sector during July, which now represents 36% of calendar year-to-date TFS sales, overtaking Fashion and Accessories (21%) as the largest spend category.

Key nationalities perform strongly

July performance was robust across all key Globe Shopper markets. While Chinese travellers remain the main driver of Asian growth, diverted holiday travel from Korea helped to grow average spend faster than transactions across the region.

  • Chinese calendar year-to-date sales grew by +19% across the region, driven by a healthy mix of transaction growth and an increase in average spend as wealthier visitors drive sales.
  • Asian TFS sales from Korean travellers were bolstered by domestic safety concerns, causing many to extend stays in nearby TFS destinations. Calendar year-to-date sales were up by +40% during July, as wealthy Koreans continued to travel internationally in large numbers.
  • Globe Shoppers from Hong Kong (China) (+27%), Taiwan, China, (+26%) and Japan (+32%) all posted significant growth of calendar year-to-date transactions.