Chinese tourists' luxury spending soars - Global Blue

Mon Apr 20, 2015 10:29am EDT
 
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PARIS (Reuters) - Chinese tourists spent a record amount on luxury goods last month, helped by shopping sprees in Europe as the weak euro made items cheaper than at home, VAT refund company Global Blue said.

Spending by Chinese tourists, the biggest buyers of luxury goods, soared by 122 percent in March after a 52 percent rise in February, bringing the increase for the first quarter to 67 percent, Global Blue said in a report published on Monday.

This compared with a rise of 32 percent in the fourth quarter and 18 percent in 2014.

Many Chinese tourists have stayed away from luxury hot spot Hong Kong - where big brands have invested significantly in new shops in recent years - following pro-democracy protests last year.

"This continues to reflect the redirection of Chinese spending from Hong Kong towards Europe in particular, given the widening of the price differentials, which is a much-discussed theme during the ongoing reporting season," broker Barclays said in a note about the Global Blue figures.

Exchange rate movements have led to significant regional price differences, with the same luxury item sometimes costing more than 50 percent less in European capitals than in major Chinese cities.

The trend has encouraged Asian buyers to snap up goods in Europe and resell them at home, a practice often referred to as parallel trading or the gray market and which brands worry could raise issues about their products' perceived authenticity.

Broker JPMorgan Cazenove estimates 20 to 40 percent of luxury sales in mainland China are now parallel, based on what luxury goods executives and consultants have said.

Last week, Burberry (BRBY.L: Quote) said it would re-align prices to match rivals after brands such as Chanel and Patek Philippe cut prices in Asia by over 20 percent to reduce the discrepancy with Europe.   Continued...

 
Consumers line up as they wait to go inside a Coach shop in Shanghai January 25, 2015.  REUTERS/Aly Song