Chinese tourists are world’s biggest spenders

Chinese tourists came out tops again as the world’s biggest tax free shoppers in 2011.

And they continue to represent the fastest growing group in tax free spending globally, according to the latest intelligence data by financial services company Global Blue.

Chinese tourists are welcomed in stores around the world as they generate the biggest tax-free shopping sales globally.

Last year, they chalked up more than S$3 billion in tax free shopping transactions.

Chinese tourists also represented the highest growth in tax free spending globally year-to-date at 57 per cent, followed by Switzerland with 37 per cent and Taiwan with 34 per cent.

Each Chinese shopper’s tax-free average spend amounted to more than S$1,341 per person, which is much higher than their Japanese (S$877) and Russian (S$594) counterparts.

Singapore also turned out to be their top destination for buying luxury watches and jewellery, with each spending an average of S$8,757 in Singapore, compared to S$7,221 in Italy and S$3,127 in Germany.

But that’s not all that China tourists spend on.

Ravi Thakran, group president of South and Southeast Asia & Middle East at LVMH, said: “The largest business for us in Singapore is the duty free shoppers. We had a PRC customer buying a single bottle of a 62-year-old Dalmore st Claire for S$250,000. This is the highest price paid for a single bottle of whiskey anywhere in the world in a duty free environment. And I’m told that those guys wanted to have their glasses and drink it too. That’s the PRC customer for you. Often, we have these customers in our stores and they are certainly now making the highest transaction value per person.”

Despite the weak economic data and a possible move by the Chinese government to lower import taxes on luxury goods, experts say the spending power of the Chinese shopper remains resilient.

Manelik Sfez, vice president of Global Marketing at Global Blue SA, said: “All brands will be able to handle a lower growth base of Chinese travelers because that is the problem today, it’s growing so fast. There’s so much more people every day to serve so if it were a bit lesser, that wouldn’t be a problem.

He added: “Their average spending is growing and if they remain at the same level, that would still be more than okay for most brands. I think the emotional drive of traveling abroad and the social positioning that it provides will remain extremely powerful.”

The Russians used to be the top global spenders but have since been outpaced by the Chinese and this trend is likely to continue, given the rapid population growth and rising affluence in China.

Going forward, experts say the top shopping destinations for China citizens will be Singapore, Hong Kong, London and Paris.


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