Retail in Asia


Global Blue’s May update: Europe, Asia Pacific driving tax-free shopping recovery


Global Blue has released its Tax Free Shopping Business Update for May 2024, highlighting a continued recovery in the sector across Continental Europe and Asia Pacific.  

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The data shows that issued sales in-store like-for-like recovery reached 172 percent in May compared to the same period in 2019, an increase from 153 percent in April and 140 percent in the first quarter of this year. 

The recovery was driven by strong performances across various nationalities. Mainland Chinese shopper recovery continued to accelerate, reaching 132 percent in May, up from 112 percent in April and 101 percent in Q1.

Japan benefitted the most from this acceleration, achieving a recovery rate of 258 percent in May.

Source: Shutterstock

This was attributed to a low Japanese Yen, making Japan an attractive shopping destination for Chinese shoppers, who are highly sensitive to exchange rates.

As a result, 64 percent of worldwide Mainland Chinese shoppers’ sales in-store in May were allocated to Japan, compared to 33 percent in 2019. Other nationalities also showed accelerated recovery, with rates reaching 210 percent in May, compared to 187 percent in April and 177 percent in Q1.  

In Continental Europe, the recovery reached 145 percent in May, up from 137 percent in April, with strong performances in France (170 percent), Spain (169 percent) and Italy (164 percent).  

The US shopper recovery remained at 307 percent in May, slightly down from 336 percent in April. Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC includes Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman) shopper recovery surged to 633 percent in May, driven by the shift in the Ramadan calendar effect (11 March to 9 April).  

Source: Global Blue

Meanwhile, Mainland Chinese shopper recovery in Continental Europe softened slightly to 59 percent in May, down from 68 percent in April. 

In Asia Pacific, the recovery rate reached a record 250 percent in May, up from 194 percent in April, fuelled by strong performances in Japan (360 percent) and South Korea (164 percent).

Travellers from Hong Kong and Taiwan led the recovery, reaching 705 percent in May, up from 517 percent in April. 

Northeast Asia (Japan and South Korea) travellers followed, with a recovery rate of 378 percent in May, up from 323 percent in April.

Mainland Chinese shoppers in Asia Pacific also showed continued acceleration, with recovery reaching 221 percent in May, up from 156 percent in April. 

When analysing year-on-year growth, worldwide issued sales in-store like-for-like performance grew by +47 percent in May, up from +46 percent in April and +40 percent in Q1.  

Source: Global Blue

The momentum remained strong across all nationalities, with Mainland Chinese shoppers growing by +164 percent in May, up from +148 percent in April and +214 percent in Q1. 

In Continental Europe, issued sales in-store grew by +19 percent in May compared to last year, driven by positive dynamics across all nationalities.  

Mainland Chinese shoppers led this growth with a +39 percent increase in May. US shopper growth reached +21 percent, and GCC shopper growth reached +20 percent. 

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In Asia Pacific, issued sales in-store growth remained high at +134 percent in May compared to last year. Mainland Chinese shoppers led this growth at +272 percent, followed by Northeast Asia shoppers at +163 percent and Hong Kong and Taiwan at +92 percent.