Europe update: Strong growth during March across most TFS markets

Global Blue’s European Tax Free Shopping (TFS) sales performance remained positive in March, ending Q1 2017 strongly. Growth can be attributed to a steady rise in transaction numbers across most major European markets.


  • TFS spend growth continues in European markets despite seasonal low traffic, up +16% year-on-year
  • French and Italian transactions continue to grow thanks to an influx of Russian and Chinese shoppers
  • UK price adjustments slightly limited average spend, but growth remains strong
  • Gulf nations decline and slowdown of Chinese travel post Chinese New Year limited spend in March

European TFS experienced a third consecutive month of double-digit growth during March, with year-on-year sales increasing +16%. This follows growth of +25% and +26% in January and February respectively, thanks to strong performance during Chinese New Year.


Key markets

While sale progression was softer than the previous two months, March is traditionally a slower month for Tax Free sales and +16% growth represented a positive result.

UK pricing slows growth

  • TFS sales remain healthy (+24%), however growth slowed slightly as opportunistic Globe Shoppers felt the impact of pricing adjustments from luxury retailers
  • Transactions were up by +31%, while average spend increased by +4%

France & Italy transactions up

  • Both countries experienced high growth in transactions during March, at +23% and +19% respectively
  • This growth is driven largely by a resurgence of Chinese and Russians, who visited in large numbers last month


Key nationalities

Most markets in Europe continue to perform well, driven largely by an increase in transactions from key Globe Shopper nationalities. 

Chinese average spend rises

  • After a significant period of spend during Chinese New Year, Chinese sales in store normalised in March (+12% vs +36% in February)
  • For the first time in several months, growth was driven predominantly by a rise in average spend, with transactions growing just +3%

Strong growth for Russians and Americans

  • Both Russian and American sales-in-store increased by a healthy +42% across Europe during March
  • This was due to increased visitor numbers, with American transactions up by +29% and Russian transactions growing by an impressive +53%

Gulf nations decline continues

  • Gulf nations experienced a sharp drop in sales during March (-15%), caused largely by economic instability in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait
  • With less travellers from Gulf states visiting Europe to shop and spend, transactions were down by -27%


Category spend

The continuing strong performance of European markets during Q1 2017 is reflected across all spend categories. European department store sales grew by +20% year-on-year, while fashion and accessories sales increased by +32%. Watches and jewellery sales continue to rise (+14% year-on-year), with transaction growth for outstripping fashion and accessories during Q1 (+15% vs +14%).