Chinese tourists drive rise in 2017 European tax free shopping

MILAN, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Chinese tourists helped drive an 11 percent rise in tax-free shopping in Europe during the first nine months of 2017, reversing a fall last year, tax-refund firm Global Blue said.

Many tourists buy high-end products shoes, clothes and handbags when travelling and reclaim the local taxes, making such shoppers an important market for retailers.

Chinese duty free customers accounted for 28 percent of total sales, while Russians represented 9 percent.

British sales were up by 22 percent and Spain’s by 18 percent with better global economic conditions, more people travelling to Europe and higher spending driving growth, Global Blue said in a statement on Wednesday.

More than 80 percent of all tax-free shopping in Europe was concentrated in France, Britain, Italy, Germany and Spain, Global Blue said, adding that this was likely to continue and the last three months of the year looked positive for sales. (Reporting by Giulia Segreti; editing by Alexander Smith)