Mar 26, 2012
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Shopping by tourists: sales up 26% in 2011

Mar 26, 2012

After an exceptional year in 2010 despite the economic crisis, zero-rated purchases made by tourists in France experienced a further increase last year. While the average shopping basket increased by only 5%, the number of transactions grew by 20% leading to a 26% increase in sales.

The increase is well beyond that observed in 2010 by Global Blue, who analyze developments in the industry annually. In five years, the picture of tourists most enthusiastic about shopping has changed. While the honor was shared by the Japanese and Americans five years ago, turnover is now largely dominated by Chinese visitors. The latter represent 26% of the total, as compared to 21% for Asia, excluding Japan and China. They are followed by Russia, Japan and the United States.

Among the surprises in the 2011 financial year was that the turnover generated by purchases made by Japanese tourists has not declined. Despite negative forecasts, the figure even appears to be up 15%. For their part, the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) now represent 41% in sales, compared to 20% five years ago. As for Russia, a change in legislation should accentuate the phenomenon: imported goods must now be declared starting from 10,000 euros and not 1,500 euros as before.

Paris alone accounts for 76% of zero-rated purchases from France. The right bank represents 95% of revenue, with a majority of customers hailing from China. The area was once favored by the Americans and Japanese, who now prefer the left bank, as do the Brazilians. But the Ile-de-France (excluding Paris) manages to hold its own: in five years its share of the revenues has increased from 7 to 10%. The increase is attributed to La Vallée Village of Marne-la-Vallee, quickly spotted by tourists who are serious shoppers. With 7% of the national figure, the Riviera has also seen a change in the nationality of tourists: even if Russians remain predominate, the share of Chinese tourists now exceeds that of Americans.

"We are optimistic for 2012, after growth of 26% in January and February," said Eric Noyal, Country Manager of Global Blue. "However, do not expect growth that will always be this strong," he warns. But, for the firm, future growth drivers could well be the Civets (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa), who are currently preparing their entry into the "top 20 nationalities making France their shopping destination."

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