Tax free spending drops 6% in Europe in first nine months

By Luke Barras-hill |

Europe-taxfree-declinespendingReduced transaction volumes stifled tax free purchasing across Europe’s dynamic markets between January to September this year, *data from Global Blue has revealed.

An 8% drop in transactions resulted in in-store sales falling by 6% due to a mixture of macro-economic impacts, including a strengthened Euro versus the US dollar and Chinese RMB.

However, spend per transaction increased by 2% over the period year-on-year.


Broken down by country, the UK, Italy and Spain posted a similar drop in tax free sales (-8%), while Germany reported an even steeper decline (-13%).

France on the other hand experienced a rise of +1% during the period, which is attributed to higher numbers of ‘elite’ and ‘frequent’ global shoppers visiting the country, representing 2% and 18% of its tax free spending, respectively.


Luxury and premium suffered in the first nine months of this year compared to the same period in 2017, but the mass segment held steady.


Global Blue’s latest findings on European tax free shopping were presented during the Annual Altagamma Luxury Observation Conference in Milan.

In the seven years to 2018, European tax free shopping has risen by 7% and remains an important growth axis of the luxury industry, says the analyst.

Although growth from Chinese shoppers slowed by 4% in the first nine months of 2018 year-on-year, the Chinese remain the top performing spenders, accounting for 30% of total tax free sales in Europe.

Meanwhile, shoppers from the Gulf region represent 11% of European tax free spend, with Russia at 8%.

France was named the most popular destination for tax free shopping, with travellers from China (+2%), the US (+7%) and the Middle East (+10%) all increasing their spending.

Global Blue has joined forces with Bain & Company to provide an analysis of non-European shopper retail transactions across three segments: ‘Luxury’, ‘Premium’ and ‘Mass’.

Global Blue adds that during the nine-month period, ‘Luxury’ and ‘Premium’ segments declined by 8% and 10%, respectively, while the ‘Mass’ category was steady.

It puts the result down to a drop in international tourist arrivals, coupled with fewer affluent shoppers visiting the region.


The Americas

JFKIAT seeks ‘world class’ F&B operator for ten JFK T4 units

JFK International Air Terminal (JFKIAT) has launched a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for ten...


TRBusiness Ghana Shorts: Sherif Toulan, President, MEADFA

The Middle East & Africa Duty Free Association (MEADFA) will eye the possibility of bringing...


WH Smith opens largest UK travel store at Birmingham Airport

Specialist retailer WH Smith has today (16 November) opened its largest store in its UK Travel...

image description

In the Magazine

TRBusiness Magazine is free to access. Read the latest issue now.

E-mail this link to a friend