'Terror' fear hits Chinese tax-free shopping in UK, study says
Chinese tax-free shopping in the UK has dropped, partly because of concern about terrorist attacks in Europe, according to a study.
There was a 30% decline in tax-free purchases by Chinese people in the UK in March, resulting in a 21% drop over the first quarter, Global Blue's inaugural Globe Shopper Report found.
The study found that the European terror attacks were potentially a factor for more than half of Chinese shoppers, with 56% citing safety and security as an important issue when choosing a destination.
China accounts for a fifth of UK tax-free shopping sales, but the Chinese prefer France, Germany and Italy over the UK, the survey found, based on data from more than 27 million transactions.
Gordon Clark, Global Blue managing director for the UK and Ireland, said: "We are experiencing a decline in Chinese spend this year, with the UK being particularly hit following the introduction of Schengen biometric visa requirements for Chinese travellers in October 2015 and in the associations with the terrorist attacks on Europe.
"However, this is the first decline we are seeing following years of continual growth and China still drives the highest number of tax-free sales in our stores."
Despite the challenges associated with the new Schengen biometric visa requirements and terror attacks, 41% of regular Chinese travellers planning a holiday in 2016 intend to visit Europe.
France is the most popular European destination (16%), followed by Germany (8%), Italy (6%) and the UK (6%).
Opinium Research surveyed 5,005 Chinese travellers between January 22 and February 1.