International Shoppers Show Growing Demand to Travel Again

  • Global Blue’s latest research shows that 66% of international shoppers are willing to travel in the next month if border restrictions ease, up from 50% in June
  • Affluent1 and Frequent2 shoppers are the most likely to travel again soon, with 72% showing a desire to travel in the next month, versus 53% of Infrequent3 shoppers
  • Stores across Asia could see faster post-pandemic spend recovery from Chinese4 and South-East Asian5 shoppers, due to new travel corridors and Asian destinations being considered ‘safer’ than those in Europe
  • American and Russian shoppers are likely to be first to return to Europe as they consider, for 65% and 50% respectively, these destinations safe to visit

EYSINS, Switzerland--()--In its latest quarterly Observatory report, leading Tax Free Shopping provider Global Blue has found that international shoppers are increasingly eager to return to overseas travel.

In an October survey of 16,000 international shoppers from the top spending nationalities, China, South East Asia, GCC6, Russia, and the USA, 66% of those asked said they were ready to travel as soon as border restrictions ease, up from 60% in July 2020 and 50% in June 2020.

Affluent and Frequent international shoppers are most inclined to travel soon

For a second consecutive quarter, Affluent and Frequent international shoppers have shown the strongest desire to return to travel, with 72% stating they would travel when quarantines are lifted, an increase of +5pts from July.

This grew to 73% amongst Affluent and Frequent shoppers from China, 92% amongst those from the GCC and almost 100% amongst those from Russia; good news for retailers looking to target these valuable shopper nationalities.

Chinese and South East Asian spend could recover fastest in Asia

Asian destinations could see a faster recovery of spend amongst Chinese and South East Asian shoppers, thanks to a lower concentration of Covid-19 cases in the region and the easing of travel restrictions:

  • 50% of Chinese shoppers and 66% of South East Asian shoppers feel Asian destinations are safe to visit, compared with just 15% and 25% respectively for Europe
  • Borders are being softened thanks to new reciprocal travel agreements, for example, leisure visitors from mainland China and Hong Kong may now visit Singapore without quarantine7

Chinese shoppers’ readiness to travel regionally within Asia could be preluded by the recovery of domestic air travel in China, which has been back at 2019 levels since August 20208.

Meanwhile, American and Russian shoppers are likely to be first to return to Europe

Conversely, Europe’s international shopping recovery is likely to be fuelled initially by American and Russian shoppers.

  • 65% of American shoppers say they feel safe visiting European destinations; a positive indicator when border restrictions ease on the continent, as American desire to travel remains high. This is exemplified by the level of arrivals to Latin America – mostly to Mexico - from USA which, thanks to soft border restrictions, reached almost 80% of 2019 levels in October 20209
  • 50% of Russian shoppers feel safe visiting Europe. Indeed, Russian shoppers’ appetite to visit European destinations is highlighted by the +5.2% year-on-year increase in flight bookings to Turkey in early August 202010, just after the Turkey-Russia travel corridor was established

Mathieu Grac, VP Intelligence at Global Blue: “It is highly encouraging to see a strong desire to travel amongst international shoppers. Although we are still amid the Covid-19 crisis, we hope that these findings along with the news of an effective vaccine and the opening of travel corridors, particularly in Asia Pacific, signal a healthy restart to the international shopping industry in 2021.

With Affluent and Frequent shoppers set to return to store first, it is important that retailers are ready to welcome these valuable shoppers and can accommodate a particular set of needs that have emerged from the pandemic. Online-to-offline solutions, limited social interaction and exceptional hygiene are key.”


Global Blue pioneered the concept of Tax Free Shopping 40 years ago. Through continuous innovation, it has become the leading strategic technology and payments partner, empowering merchants to capture the growth of international shoppers.

The Group connects all stakeholders involved in the international shopping ecosystem, helping:

  • More than 29 million international shoppers receive a seamless and personalised shopping experience, enabling them to claim back the VAT on their eligible purchases when they shop abroad and to pay in their home currency at a guaranteed best rate,
  • More than 300,000 points of sale, including leading department stores and luxury brands, identify growth opportunities through smart data and intelligence solutions, increase footfall through data-driven marketing solutions and convert traffic into merchant revenue through innovative in-store technologies,
  • More than 50 acquirers, at around 130,000 points of interaction, benefit from additional revenue streams and offer merchants and travellers Dynamic Currency Conversion options and other Added-Value Payment Solutions,
  • Customs & authorities in more than 40 countries increase country attractiveness and ensure a secure and compliant Tax Free Shopping scheme.

In the financial year ending 31 March 2020, Global Blue processed 35 million Tax Free Shopping transactions with a total value of €18.5 billion sales in store, and 31 million Added-Value Payment Solutions transactions with a total value of €4.4 billion sales in store.

Global Blue has over 2,000 employees in more than 50 countries.

For more information, visit


1 Individual international shoppers who have spent more than 40,000€ over the past 24 months
2 International shoppers who have made more than 3 trips over the past 24 months
3 International shoppers travelling at least once a year
4 Continental China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao
5 Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam
6 Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar
7 Source: CNBC and South China Morning Post
8 Source: Forward Keys 2020
9 Source: Forward Keys 2020
10 Source: Forward Keys 2020


Domitille Pinta, VP Communications
+33 6 11 07 52 90 -


Domitille Pinta, VP Communications
+33 6 11 07 52 90 -