Global shoppers return to Europe after terror-linked slump says Planet

The impact of terrorist attacks in Europe on global shoppers’ desire to visit the region appears to have all but disappeared with Europe-wide sales to international shoppers up by 11% in April following an 8% drop this time last year.


Non-EU shoppers have returned to Europe in large numbers and that means a big boost for luxury fashion


That’s according to tax-free payments specialist Planet, which processes much of the money non-EU shoppers spend in Europe. The company said that three of Europe's five biggest retail markets saw double-digit sales increases. The UK led the charge on 15% sales growth (a 22-month high), along with Germany, also up 15%. Spain rose 14% while Italy was up 8% and France 6%.

Tax-free shoppers are a major driver of fashion and luxury sales in key destination cities and their return is good news for brands.

The Europe-wide 11% figure marks a 19-percentage-point improvement on April 2018, a month that followed a string of terror attacks and natural disasters across the continent that meant many international shoppers avoided visiting major European shopping destinations. 

Sales a year ago were affected by the psychological impact of the Manchester bombing, the Barcelona car attack, stabbings in Carcassonne and the Paris floods, but the frequency of attacks and other disruptive events has lessened in the last 12 months, although France has seen more than its share of problems due to the yellow vest protests.

UK retailers have been battered in recent years so the 15% increase in sales to international shoppers in April was good news, especially as it marked three months of consecutive sales growth and the highest UK growth figure in just under two years.
 
This recovery comes almost two years on from the Manchester Arena bombings and the London Bridge and Finsbury Park attacks, which contributed to an extended period of decreased international shopper spending in the UK, hitting a low of -23% in April 2018.
 
The biggest spenders in the UK in April were Chinese, Kuwaiti and US shoppers, accounting for a 17%, 8% and 7% share of total sales to international shoppers, respectively. The biggest spenders per transaction were those from the United Arab Emirates, on an average of €534.
  
Since the beginning of 2019, UK retailers have recorded tax-free sales hikes for three of the last four months, “suggesting that a sustained recovery is set to continue for the year ahead.” And the average transaction value was up 13% in April.

At the other end of the scale, France with just a 6% rise in April was the lowest performing of Europe’s five biggest international shopper markets. Its growth figure represents a nine-percentage-point difference compared with the UK and Germany, and is seen as a direct consequence of the on-going yellow vest protests.

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