Global Blue has reported that ‘international elite shoppers’ – or the top 0.5% of tax-free spenders – account for 17% of global tax-free retail income.
The tax-free shopping specialist said that international elite shoppers travel on average about three times a year, over approximately 15 days, and spend an average of €55,000 (US$61,000) across 12 different transactions.
The Global Blue research reveals that Europe is the preferred destination for international elite shoppers, with France the most popular (36%), followed by the UK (31%) and Italy (31%). In Asia, Japan is the most popular destination (21%), ahead of Singapore (16%).
While Europe accounts for a higher footfall, the country which receives the highest spend per individual elite shopper according to Global Blue is Singapore, with an average spend of nearly €56,000 (US$62,000) per year. It notes that this is fuelled by high spend in the watches and jewellery category. The UK is Europe’s highest benefactor, receiving €35,000 (US$39,000) per elite shopper, with department stores attracting a large share of the total spend.
The study reveals that, for the elite, international shopping is heavily weighted towards the high-end, with almost 75% of their spend being made in the luxury or hard luxury categories. Global Blue also points out that fast fashion and high street brands can still benefit, with around 25% of total spend being made in the lifestyle, premium, and affordable luxury categories.
The figures show that the top 10% of elite shoppers – those spending more than €100,000 (US$111,000) a year – are responsible for 36% of the total elite tax-free spend. These are classed by Global Blue as High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs). They spend on average €190,000 (US$211,000) per year, ranging from about €180,000 (US$200,000) among Russian and American HNWIs, €190,000 (US$211,000) among Gulf country HNWIs, €200,000 (US$222,000) among Chinese HNWIs and up to €210,000 (US$234,000) among Southeast Asian HNWIs.
Global Blue CEO Jacques Stern said: “With each elite shopper representing such substantial spend, this segment is critical to retailers looking to make the most of the international shopper market. Whether it’s the need for a personalised in-store experience for Middle Eastern shoppers or access to the latest fashion collaboration for Chinese millennials, the needs and expectations of the elite shopper varies, depending on their age and nationality. Global Blue’s insights provide specific and detailed knowledge that will empower our partners to attract more of this lucrative set of customers.”
According to Global Blue’s data, international elite shoppers come primarily come from five key regions/countries, led by Greater China with 40%. Rounding out the top five are Southeast Asia (15%), the Gulf states (14%), the USA (6%) and Russia (6%).