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Russian tourists’ purchases of luxury goods on the increase

Luxury goods purchases by Russian tourists worldwide have grown in October, for the first time in nearly three years, while those made by Chinese tourists recorded only a slight decrease, according to figures published by tax-free sales specialist Global Blue.

Purchases by Russian tourists kept falling since January 2014, owing to the economic crisis and the rouble’s weakness, but last month they rose by 2.9%, suggesting a possible brightening in the mood of Russian consumers, after their share in world luxury goods sales fell to approximately 3% in 2015, according to estimates by UBS analysts.

Conversely, the trend is still negative for the crucial Chinese clientele, whose purchases account for nearly 40% of the world luxury market. However, in October the decline was limited to -7.6% (after downturns of over 14% in the two previous months), thanks to the spending spree for China’s ‘golden week’ holiday period.

The Chinese make their purchases chiefly on the domestic market, encouraged by the lower price differential compared to Europe, and by the taxes and constraints adopted by the Chinese government to fight against the ‘daigu’ parallel market: Chinese buyers who sell off cheaply authentic luxury products bought in Europe.

As for Europe, the robust rise in purchases in the UK continues (+34.7%), driven by a weak pound, while Italy recorded an 8.7% downturn, after posting a -8% in September.

Purchases in France declined by 10.8%, though this was an improvement after decreases by more than 20% during the previous two months. Tourism is still slumping in France, owing to security concerns, and tourist visits recorded an 8% decrease at the end of October.

Globally, tax-free purchases have limited their decline to 2.3% in October, after falling by 5.9% the previous month.

The figures published by Global Blue do not take into account purchases made in the USA, Hong Kong and Dubai, where tax-free operations do not exist.

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