August shopping data from tax refund specialist, Global Blue, indicates a downward trend in tax-free in-store sales of -13% (year-on-year) in Asia – the worst decline since the start of the year and a big fall compared with July’s 0% change.
While transactions rose significantly in August by +25%, the decline of average spend at -30% clearly shows that individual travellers are spending less and this is probably due to a combination of factors ranging from China’s customs clampdown, a different passenger profile, and currency influences.
Blue says: “The rise of less affluent middle class Chinese travellers continues to bring down the average spend of tax-free shopping globally, with a sizeable impact in Asia.
Across the region more ‘value seekers’ from second-tier and third-tier cities are growing their transactions, but with less affluent spending patterns.”
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But, says Global Blue, the overall sales performance in the region is significantly limited by the headwinds of a stronger yen in Japan and Chinese spending in the region increasingly being driven by value-seeking shoppers who spend less.
The travel boost is not compensating for the spending fall in key duty free and travel retail locations such as Singapore and Japan – while Hong Kong (downtown) does not even have the benefit of rising traveler numbers.
Global Blue estimates that 23% of Japan’s negative sales performance this month is driven by the softer yen and the other 10% is due to increased numbers of less affluent Chinese shoppers arriving in Japan from second-tier and third-tier cities.
(Source: TR Business)