INTERNATIONAL. New research from tax free shopping specialist Global Blue has found that international shoppers are increasingly keen to return to overseas retail spending and travel. In a survey, 66% of respondents said they were ready to travel as soon as border restrictions ease, up from 60% in July 2020 and 50% in June 2020.

The findings come from its latest quarterly Observatory report, which was compiled from an October survey of 16,000 international shoppers from countries including China, South East Asia, the GCC countries (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and Qatar), Russia and the US.

The Global Blue survey finds that 66% of Southeast Asian shoppers believe Asian destinations outside their own countries are safe to visit

For a second consecutive quarter, those defined by Global Blue as ‘Affluent and Frequent’ international shoppers (those who have spent more than €40,000 – or U$48,400 – in the past 24 months) have shown the strongest desire to return to travel. Some 72% in this category claim they would travel when quarantines are lifted, representing an increase of +5% from July.

“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” – Global Blue VP Intelligence Mathieu Grac

The number grew to 73% amongst Affluent and Frequent shoppers from China, 92% among those from the GCC countries and almost 100% among those from Russia.

The survey also found that Asian destinations could see a faster recovery of spend among Chinese and Southeast Asian shoppers. Global Blue attributes this to a lower concentration of COVID-19 cases and the easing of travel restrictions in the region.

Global Blue VP Intelligence Mathieu Grac says that online-to-offline solutions will be important in attracting new international shopper spend

Some 50% of Chinese shoppers and 66% of Southeast Asian shoppers believe Asian destinations outside their own countries are safe to visit. By the same measure, confidence falls to just 15% and 25% respectively for Europe.

The shopper research also revealed that American and Russian shoppers are likely to be the first to return to retail spending in European destinations. The results show that 65% of American shoppers and 50% of Russian shoppers say they feel safe about visiting Europe.

Global Blue believes the trends from its findings point to a much improved year for international shopping in 2021

Global Blue points to several trends – taken from travel analyst ForwardKeys’ research* – that show a desire to travel from these nationalities. US arrivals to Latin America – mostly to Mexico – reached almost 80% of 2019 levels in October, while there was a +5.2% year-on-year rise in Russian bookings to Turkey in August this year.

Global Blue VP Intelligence Mathieu Grac said: “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.”

*The Moodie Davitt Report has partnered with ForwardKeys to bring the travel analytics company’s Global Recovery Dashboard and other services to an expanded audience via our market-leading website. Click here for more details.