Europe saw a rebound of 119% in its overall duty-free consumption in March, compared to 106% and 100% in January and February, respectively. This is due mainly to the strong return of mainland Chinese tourists, according to a report by Global Blue, a tourism shopping tax refund company, in early April.
It is understood that the recovery rate of visitors from mainland China shopping in European countries hit 49% in March, up from 22% in January and February. Among which, France and Germany were the two attracting the most footfall.
A similar pattern was also observed in the Asia-Pacific region, where duty-free sales bounced back by 93% in March, as opposed to 74% in February and 96% in January. The shopping recovery rate amongst tourists from mainland China in Singapore reached 69% last month, whereas it was 59% in its neighbouring country of South Korea during the same period.
The sector’s recovery indicates a continued appetite for overseas consumption from Mainlanders post pandemic, which has been further unleashed after the country reopened its doors on 8 January following three years of zero-COVID restrictions.
The reopening was followed by a quick return of Chinese visitors and is also expected to accelerate the global luxury consumption rebound. According to the China Luxury Forecast 2023 by Ruder Finn and CSG INTAGE Research in March, 52% of 2,000 respondents surveyed between December 2022 and January 2023 from cities across the mainland reported that they would increase their luxury spending, surpassing the reported 44% pre-pandemic, up from 45% recorded in May 2022 when local COVID lockdown were still commonplace.
For those raising their budgets for extravagant purchasing, 53% spend more money on clothing. This is closely followed by luxury consumers who want to invest in luxury travel (52%), while 48% are willing to pay for fine dining. This signals a growing demand for experiential and immersive luxury consumption experiences, which means market players who can cater to that need will have the best chance of grabbing a slice from the return of the lucrative Chinese visitors.