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 & PREMIUM SUFFERS
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.