In October, for the first time in nearly three years, purchases of luxury goods by Russian tourists worldwide increased, according to figures published by Global Blue, the tax-free shopping specialist. Conversely, Chinese tourists, whose purchases account for around 40 percent of the world luxury market, still recorded a slight decrease, but it was lower than before.
Combined with statistics showing that imports of clothing into Russia have started to go up again, the figures indicate that the marked for high-end footwear and other personal luxury products may have bottomed out, confirming the positive trend reported by large luxury goods groups such as LVMH, Kering and Hermès in their latest quarterly reports. It's particularly good news for Italian shoemakers, who have been severely hit by the sanctions on exports to Russia.
The growth in spending by Russian tourists on tax-free luxury products in October was limited to 2.9 percent. Purchases by Russian tourists had kept falling since January 2014, due to the economic crisis and the weakness of the rouble, lowering their share of global duty-free purchases of luxury items to around three percent in 2015. The new trend might suggest a brighter future, analysts say.
As for the crucial Chinese shoppers, the 7.6 percent decline in the tax-free purchases they made in October was less severe than the 14 percent decline of the two previous months, thanks to China's “golden week” holiday period. The Chinese make their purchases mainly on the domestic market, due to the taxes and constraints imposed by the Chinese government to fight against the parallel market created by Chinese buyers who are selling at cheaper prices luxury products they have bought in Europe
Globally, tax-free purchases declined by 2.3 percent in October, after a 5.9 percent drop in the previous month. The figures published by Global Blue do not take into account purchases made in the U.S., Hong Kong and Dubai, where tax-free operations do not exist.
In Europe, Global Blue noted a continued strong trend in the U.K., where tax-free spending on luxury items grew by 34.7 percent in October, driven by a weak pound following the Brexit vote last June. The British currency has been recovering in the last few days, however, but prices are expected to remain competitive until the end of the current season.
Italy registered an 8.7 percent downturn, which came after an 8 percent decline in September. France recorded a 10.8 percent decline, which marked an improvement compared with drops of more than 20 percent in the previous two months. Tourism in France is still going through a rough patch due to security concerns.