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Spending by Chinese and Asian travelers at luxury shopping outlets across Europe

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

Stylish travelers from China and across Asia are spending big at McArthurGlen’s 20 Designer Outlet centers located across Europe.

McArthurGlenTotal tax-free sales by Chinese shoppers rose 270% in the past two years (2012 and 2013). Chinese visitors now account for more than 20% of all tax-free sales at McArthurGlen Designer Outlets, and they spend eight times more than the average shopper – a figure that rises to a factor of 10 at the flagship Italian centres. Shoppers from South East Asia and South Korea also recorded impressive sales growth last year.

The most popular McArthurGlen Designer Outlets for Chinese shoppers in 2013, in terms of total spending, were:

• Roermond (in the Netherlands near the German border) – where tax-free purchases by Chinese shoppers increased 17%.

• Serravalle (Milan) – up 55%.

• Parndorf (Vienna) – up 30%.

• Noventa di Piave (Venice) – up 94%.

• Castel Romano (Rome) – up 20%.

Chinese luxury shoppers also hit the stores during a special promotion to celebrate the 2014 Spring Festival Golden Week Holiday. Tax-free sales at McArthurGlen’s 20 European outlets increased by nearly 50% during February 2014, and a total of more than 3,400 specially created Chinese New Year red envelopes and 2,200 tote bags were redeemed.

Shopping for fashion items is the most popular holiday activity after sightseeing, and visiting museums and art galleries, according to a McArthurGlen survey of Chinese travelers in Europe. Around one in three Chinese tourists visiting Europe over a 12-month period, rising to two-thirds when considering just those who went shopping for fashion, visited a designer outlet village. The brand mix is the most important factor for choosing an outlet center, together with customer service and accessibility, and a desirable shopping atmosphere.

New trends are also emerging. Previously, most visitors from China to McArthurGlen’s Designer Outlets arrived from Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, but increasing numbers are now traveling to the centers in Europe from second-tier Chinese cities, where incomes have been rising and interest in designer labels is strong. This greater dispersion of shopping tourist source markets is also a noticeable trend from other emerging Asian markets.

In addition to big spending by Chinese visitors, travelers from South East Asia and South Korea are proving to be avid luxury shoppers. In 2013, visitors from Thailand spent 52% more at McArthurGlen’s Designer Outlets than in 2012, while Malaysian spending increased 48%. Indonesian travelers spent 23% more last year, closely followed by Singapore (up 22%) and South Korea (up 18%).

“We see travelers from China and South East Asia as being the markets that will drive the future growth of our tourism business,” says Julia Calabrese, CEO of McArthurGlen Group. “From our experience, the Chinese love to shop for fashions for themselves and family and friends when they travel. They look to buy that sought-after European luxury brand when in Europe, while, at the same time, avoiding the steep import duties back home. It’s about providing an authentic shopping experience at bargain prices.”

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