29 Sept 2020 - Over half of international shoppers are ready to return to travel overseas

Eysins, Switzerland

Global Blue, the world’s leading Tax Free Shopping provider, has measured the sentiment of 30,000 tax free shoppers in its latest Observatory report.

Released in September, the study provides insight into the future trends of international luxury retail by asking shoppers about their planned travel and shopping behaviour, in the Covid-19 context.

  • Global Blue’s survey of 30,000 international shoppers reveals that 55% are willing to travel overseas if border restrictions ease
  • Elite1 and Frequent2 shoppers are most likely to plan an international trip, with 60% intending to travel in the short-term, versus 50% of Infrequent3 shoppers
  • Amongst the top shopping nationalities, Elite and Frequent shoppers from Russia (80%), America (70%) and South East Asia (60%) are most inclined to travel in the following month
  • While shopping remains a travel priority, robust sanitary and social distancing measures in-store are considered a must by all international shoppers


Most international shoppers are ready to travel when borders open again

When surveyed in July, over half (55%) of international shoppers said they were willing to travel overseas in the following month if borders were opened and were without quarantine requirements. This is an increase of 7% across all nationalities versus June 2020. Top shopper nationalities including Greater China4 (+7%), GCC5 (+9%) and the USA (+6%) were amongst those showing an increased willingness to travel.

While shoppers from Russia (60%) and the GCC (35%) are eager to travel in 2020, those from China (45%), the USA (50%) and South East Asia (50%) are more likely to postpone their travel until H1 2021.

Affluent and high-frequency segments show a stronger desire to travel

Positive news for the tourism and travel industries is that 60% of Elite and Frequent shoppers said they were inclined to travel in the following month, versus 50% of Infrequent shoppers. This figure increased to 65% amongst Elite and Frequent shoppers from America and 80% amongst those from Russia.

Safety in the Covid-19 context is key to shoppers’ return to store

65% of international shoppers who planned to delay their travel to 2021 attributed this to concerns around safety and sanitation in the pandemic.

In this context, Asian shoppers were shown to favour regional destinations, with 50% of Chinese shoppers and 70% of South East Asian shoppers viewing the Asia-Pacific region as safe, compared to 30% and 35% respectively for Europe. However, shoppers from the USA (60%), Russia (65%) and the GCC (50%) feel more confident visiting Europe.

Reassuringly for retailers, shopping remains a top focus in the post-Covid-19 era, particularly for those from America (75%), China (65%) and Russia (60%). However, strong hygiene and social distancing measures in-store are considered an imperative by all nationalities.

Virginie Alem, VP Customer Value Creation at Global Blue: “In this climate of uncertainty and fast-changing trends, we have created the Observatory to help our partners in the travel and retail industries to navigate their way through the recovery period. While this has been an extremely challenging time, it is encouraging to see that valuable international shoppers are showing an increased appetite to return to global travel. As retailers look to attract international shoppers back into store, it is key that their health and safety concerns are allayed with innovative solutions that meet the demands of a post-Covid-19 world.”

[1] Individual international shoppers who have spent more than 40,000€ over the past 24 months
[2] International shoppers who have made more than 3 trips over the past 24 months
[3] International shoppers travelling at least once a year
[4] Continental China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao
[5] Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar



Domitille Pinta, VP Communications
+33 6 11 07 52 90 - dpinta@globalblue.com

Alix Bonnet, PR & Brand Manager
+33 6 23 73 94 51 – abonnet@globalblue.com


Global Blue pioneered the concept of Tax Free Shopping 40 years ago. Through continuous innovation, it has become the leading strategic technology and payments partner, empowering merchants to capture the growth of international shoppers.

The Group connects all stakeholders involved in the international shopping ecosystem, helping:

  • More than 29 million international shoppers receive a seamless and personalised shopping experience, enabling them to claim back the VAT on their eligible purchases when they shop abroad and to pay in their home currency at a guaranteed best rate,
  • More than 300,000 points of sale, including leading department stores and luxury brands, identify growth opportunities through smart data and intelligence solutions, increase footfall through data-driven marketing solutions and convert traffic into merchant revenue through innovative in-store technologies,
  • More than 50 acquirers, at around 130,000 points of interaction, benefit from additional revenue streams and offer merchants and travellers Dynamic Currency Conversion options and other Added-Value Payment Solutions,
  • Customs & authorities in more than 40 countries increase country attractiveness and ensure a secure and compliant Tax Free Shopping scheme.

In the financial year ending 31 March 2020, Global Blue processed 35 million Tax Free Shopping transactions with a total value of €18.5 billion sales in store, and 31 million Added-Value Payment Solutions transactions with a total value of €4.4 billion sales in store.

Global Blue has over 2,000 employees in more than 50 countries.
For more information, visit http://www.globalblue.com/corporate/