Russians ranked number 2 in retail spending around the world

Customers look at discount bags in a Paris department store on the first day of the winter sales (Reuters/Benoit Tessier)
As Europeans cut their spending due to the crisis, Russians are showing themselves as lavish shoppers, as they spent as much as 2.4bn euro in European stores and have claimed about 1.1bn euro in tax refunds, according to a Global Blue report.

The survey prepared by the Global Blue shopping tourism company showed Russians and Chinese are the world most prolific shoppers as the account for 18.4% and 15.9% of Global Blue’s total tax refund transactions. They are followed by Indonesians with 4.6%.

On average a Chinese shopper spends €3,000 on each transaction, well above customers from Western countries. “Four years ago spending by Chinese customers was roughly 30% of American spend. Today, it’s significantly ahead. These are very serious tourists with a propensity to spend,” Michael Ward, Managing Director of Harrods said.

The most popular category for international customers is ‘Fashion & Clothing’, closely followed by ‘Watches & Jewellery’.

We are gradually seeing men for whom watches are not just a status accessory, but also a passion, who have an understanding of the history and philosophy of brands, of their technical details, and who want a high level of professionalism and knowledge from the consultant,” Global Blue quotes the CEO of Imperial. Besides that, many of them prefer to buy luxury stuff abroad as prices in Russia are 15-13% higher.

Meanwhile, sales in Russia of high-end items are set to grow by up to 20% in 2012, the country is now snapping at the heels of China. Through 2009 to 2011 Russia’s high-end market had been growing at an average of 5% annually, after a drop by the same 5% in 2009.

Most shoppers consider Europe a shopping destination, with Singapore and South Korea also key destinations, especially for wealthy Indonesians. Indeed, Singapore accounts for 84% of all tax refunds to Indonesians, according to Global Blue.

Though retailers provide all year around opportunities, the launch of seasonal fashion collections, peak holidays and sale periods are considered by international shoppers. For Russian customers the top five months in order of sales were: November, September, October, January, and August. While for the Chinese, the top four months were: November September, August, and July.