Chinese remain most valuable shoppers worldwide: Report

‘The Top Ten Globe Shopper Nations Review’, an annual report providing analysis and insight into the spending and habits of the world’s ten biggest spending globe shopper nations. In 2013, travellers from the top ten nations increased the amount they spent on Tax Free Shopping with Global Blue by 8%. Together all ten nations accounted for nearly two‐thirds of the Tax Free Shopping transactions processed worldwide by Global Blue. After Thailand and Malaysia in 2012, other new globe shopper nations have broken into the top ten this year, namely Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong.

David Baxby, CEO of Global Blue commented: “Global Blue’s Market Intelligence helps merchants understand and capitalise upon the phenomenal growth in international tourist shopping. We have found that China is once again the most numerous and highest spending globe shopping nation, and if the last decade is anything to go by, the amount spent will continue to increase, albeit at a slower rate than recent years. However it is not just about the Chinese. Globe shopping is becoming increasingly important around the world, and we’re seeing new nations breaking into the top ten, and these are the countries luxury retailers need to watch.”


The Chinese were the biggest spending nationality in 2013, accounting for 27% of the value of all tax refund claims made with Global Blue. Globe shoppers from Russia were the second highest spenders on Tax Free Shopping, accounting for 17%. Russians completed more tax refund transactions than Chinese globe shoppers, but because Russians are more likely to purchase Fashion & Clothing (which is generally lower in price than Watches & Jewellery, a popular category for the Chinese) they have a lower overall spend.


Thailand’s +23% growth in Tax Free Shopping in 2013 is impressive. Indeed, Thailand’s economy has consistently beaten all expectations – even those of its own government. The UK in particular saw a massive Tax Free Shopping | Currency Choice | OneInterface | Academy | Market Intelligence | Marketing Services year‐on ‐year rise of +39% in Tax Free Shopping by Thai citizens in 2013. The UK now accounts for 25% of total global spending by Thai globe shoppers.

New big spenders whose shopping habits and preferences are explored in The Review include tourists from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong, all of which made it in to the top 10 list for the first time in 2013. Steady, solid growth in total spending by globe shoppers from Saudi Arabia has lifted them to 8th in the league table of highest spenders, with 44% of all Tax Free Shopping by Saudi citizens taking place in the United Kingdom. The United Arab Emirates stands in 9th place in the league table, with globe shoppers from the countries in The Gulf Cooperation Council – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and The United Arab Emirates (UAE) – have the highest average spend per transaction on Tax Free Shopping. Hong Kong globe shoppers round out the ranking in tenth place thanks to a rise in the Hong Kong dollar of about 5 percent against the euro in 2013.


(Growth in total spend vs. 2012 %)
1. China 20% 6. Thailand 23%
2. Russia 13% 7. Malaysia 10%
3. Indonesia 0% 8. Saudi Arabia 11%
4. USA 7% 9. UAE 15%
5. Japan ‐31% 10. Hong Kong 11%


The top ten globe shopper nations have some preferred destinations in common; all nationalities shopped heavily in at least some of the most popular Tax Free Shopping destinations: France, UK, Italy, Germany and Singapore. Other favoured destinations included Finland, Austria, Spain, and South Korea.

Tiffany & Co flagship store in Paris, Champs Elysees