BERLIN, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Spending on tax free shopping at leading destinations dropped for the first time since 2009 in the second quarter, with spending by Russians down sharply due to the fall in the rouble, according to a tourism shopping specialist.
Between April and June total sales in France, Italy, Britain, Germany and Singapore - which together receive around three-quarters of total global spend by foreign customers - dropped 3 percent by value, according to data from duty free shopping group Global Blue.
“The drops are not down to a reduction in tourist numbers, but a decrease in average spend per transaction,” Global Blue said in a statement on Thursday.
Spending by Russians fell 18 percent, it said, with the impact from the weak rouble being exacerbated by effects of the crisis in Ukraine. Russians account for approximately 20 percent of all tax-free shopping worldwide, Global Blue said.
The spend by Chinese shoppers, which accounted for around 27 percent of all tax free shopping in 2013 and therefore the most spend of any nation on tax-free shopping whilst abroad, rose just 9 percent in the quarter, compared with increases of between 30 and 50 percent over recent years.
The worst hit destinations in the second quarter were France and Germany, with the total amount spent by foreigners on tax-free goods dropping 5.2 percent and 4.5 percent.
Fraport, the operator of Frankfurt airport, said last week that its retail operations were suffering as the strong euro puts shoppers off buying luxury perfumes, cosmetics and clothes at the airport. (Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Sophie Walker)