Shopping by the Chinese, who make up 40 percent of the tax-free sales in the world, amounted to TL 85.5 million ($17.84 million) in Turkey - an increase of 275 percent in the first quarter of this year.
Selim Şeyhun, General Manager of Global Blue Turkey assessing the tax-free transactions in Turkey said that tax-free sales in the first six months of this year showed an increase of 48 percent compared to the same period last year.
"In the first six months, the total sales amount of the VAT-refunded transactions reached TL 467 million. This growth was mainly due to an increase in the average expenditures on sales," Şeyhun added.
Şeyhun noted that the number of transactions increased by 5 percent in the same period and that the most important reason for the increase in average expenditures came from the price adjustments that the retail sector made against the rise in euro and dollar.
He said tax-free shopping by the Chinese visitors surged by 275 percent to TL 85.5 million in the first six months, also recording an increase of 108 percent in the number of transactions, which led to a great breakthrough for the Turkish retail sector.
"The Chinese held 20 percent of the total market. Imagine, that without this growth in the number of Chinese tourists, Turkey's first six-month tax-free sales would fall to 30 percent, instead of achieving 48 percent growth," Şeyhun said. "The Chinese visitors' discovery of Turkey, their shopping and satisfaction with the visit will contribute very seriously to foreign luxury brands' further investments in Turkey."
He added that healthy growth also continues in the Russian market, he noted Russian tax-free sales increased by 37 percent in the first six months of the year, underlining that this growth came with the support of a 22 percent increase in the number of transactions, regardless of the average shopping rate. "With the World Cup finishing in the middle of July, we expect to see further acceleration in shopping by the Russian visitors in August and September," he added.
Şeyhun remarked that the Gulf countries still continue to constitute the most important part of tax-free retail in Turkey.
"Thirty-five percent of the tax-free figures came from the Gulf countries and Iran. Although growth rates declined in the first six months of last year compared to the previous years, they closed the gap in June. The shift of the Ramadan Holiday to a forward date was effective in this regard," Şeyhun continued.
He highlighted that June data broke the record of 2018 with the number of transactions increasing by 27 percent, average expenditure by 79 percent and total tax-free sales by 127 percent. Şeyhun pointed to the 27 percent increase in the number of transactions with regards to the surge in the number of shopping tourists. Global Blue Turkey general manager said that the increase in tax-free shopping by the Chinese throughout the year also continued in June with a record figure, noting that the number of Chinese tourists grew by 511 percent in June this year, compared to the same month last year, accounting for 31 percent of total tax-free sales.
"This is just the beginning, because the retail sector has to make more preparations for Chinese tourists," Şeyhun said. "The Chinese constitute 40 percent of tax-free purchases in the world and 45 percent in Europe. The retail sector should focus on digital promotions for the Chinese and even employ Chinese-speaking staff. The acceptance of digital payment systems, such as WeChat and AliPay as well as digital wallets at stores, also offers serious opportunities for retailers." Şeyhun indicated that the number of visitors from the Gulf countries also showed a significant increase in June and that despite slower growth in the first six months, the figures climbed with the Ramadan holiday shifting forward to June.