• Global Blue’s Tax Free Shopping (TFS) transactions have fallen steeply in March with the overall global sales performance dropping down to -18% year-on-year (YoY) vs +2% for February (albeit against a tough comparison for 2015, partly due to the Chinese New Year falling later last year). This month’s dip is largely owing to much weaker demand for European shopping trips by the Chinese, who are now feeling the pinch of a slowing economy and less attractive exchange rates, coupled with new biometric visa requirements, plus terrorist threat concerns in the region.
• Europe has seen the biggest impact, with the region posting -22% TFS sales decline for March YoY vs -1% in February. Non-Eurozone countries saw slightly less decline with -17% YoY this month. Q1 2016 sales decline is -11% YoY for Europe vs +17% for 2015.
• Asia is less affected; however the region still posted -1% TFS sales decline for the month YoY, vs +10% in February. The number of transactions in Asia saw healthy growth with +19% for March and + 24% for Q1 YoY, a sign that visitor numbers are up by proxy and the region could be back to positive growth much sooner than Europe.
• Despite the challenging conditions for travel-related shopping, Chinese globe shoppers remain the number one nationality by share of global spend for TFS, registering 36% of Global Blue’s total transactions for March YoY. Chinese global spending dropped down to -24%, while average spend mirrored this declining performance with -21% YoY. Chinese spending in Asia also declined with -6% vs a heavier drop in Europe of -35% for March YoY.
• Americans are providing a positive growth story for March, retaining fourth biggest globe shopper share of spend and posting +10% global TFS sales. They posted +2% sales increase in the UK and +24% in Singapore.
• Middle Eastern globe shoppers continue to prioritise the UK for TFS (by over 50% share of spend), posting +12% sales increase here and +11% average spend growth for March YoY. Their average spend in the UK this month was €1440.
Global Blue corporate data reporting includes Tax Free Shopping (TFS) transactions from our key TFS destination markets across EMEA, Asia and Americas, where more than 24 months of back data is available. Global Blue data points referenced within our corporate content may vary from other third party reports that publish our data, due to different parameters set by these third parties.