Ramadan season usually sees Gulf Cooperation Council* (GCC) travellers flock to Europe in a bid to escape rising temperatures back home and shop before and after the festivities.

Setting the 2019 Ramadan scene: favourable currency exchange rates and high value transactions

This year again, GCC travellers’ shopping spend did not disappoint. Earlier Ramadan celebrations in 2019** compared to 2018 means European retailers witnessed a surge in GCC Tax Free ShoppingA number of countries offer VAT/GST refunds to international... More activity earlier than the year before.

GCC travellers made the most of favourable currency exchange rates in the region and increased their Tax Free ShoppingA number of countries offer VAT/GST refunds to international... More spend +16%*** over the April-June period, peaking in June with a whopping +57% progression to represent 10% of Europe’s total Tax Free ShoppingA number of countries offer VAT/GST refunds to international... More activity that month.

In parallel, all GCC nationalities increased their average spendRefers to average value of a transaction (usually applying t... More per transaction during the April-June period and helped the region post a +4% average spendRefers to average value of a transaction (usually applying t... More increase.

Destinations: 1 shopping Mecca, 2 new contenders

The UK remains a shopping hotspot for GCC shoppers. The island country managed to capture almost half of GCC travellers’ spend from April to June 2019; followed by Italy (13%) and France (9%).

Turkey and Italy emerge as the surprise outsiders from Ramadan 2019. Encouraged by Turkey’s easy Visa process**** and Italian retailers’ efforts to attract wealthy GCC shoppers, their sales in store is progressing faster than any other European country at +44% and +47% respectively over the April-June period.

In terms of shopping categories, GCC citizens still prioritize Department Stores to shop. The category represents close to 40% of their Tax Free ShoppingA number of countries offer VAT/GST refunds to international... More spend from April to June 2019, followed by Fashion & Clothing at 31%. Yet, the Leather Goods & Bags and the Watch & Jewellery categories progress faster, +27% and +29% respectively over the same period.

The British exception and breaking down stereotypes

GCC activity in the UK is unique as 72% of their Tax Free ShoppingA number of countries offer VAT/GST refunds to international... More activity in the country emits from department stores from April to June 2019. By comparison, in other countries, their spending is much more balanced and evenly spread out. This performance is a testimony to British Department Stores’ capacity to attract and welcome GCC shoppers within their stores.

GCC travellers are more diverse than first meets the eye. A closer look at the GCC nationality mix in the UK shows that Qatar and Kuwait individuals clearly prioritize the island country to shop during the Ramadan season. United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia citizens, however, prefer other European countries to shop during Ramadan.

After the 4-week shopping hiatus imposed by the religious celebrations, GCC Tax Free ShoppingA number of countries offer VAT/GST refunds to international... More spend is back to its usual levels. Yet a closer look at the couple of weeks post Ramadan***** show further different shopping dynamics depending on the nationality. Qataris and Saudis are slower to get back to their shopping normal and post, respectively, a -48% decrease and shy +4% progression of their Tax Free ShoppingA number of countries offer VAT/GST refunds to international... More transactions emitted. By comparison, Kuwait and UAE citizens’ return to Tax Free ShoppingA number of countries offer VAT/GST refunds to international... More is much stronger, posting a +67% and +23% increase of their transaction number.

 

 

*Global Blue includes in the Gulf Cooperation Council: Kuwait, Qatar, Saudia Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE)
**Ramadan 2019: beg. May 5th – end June 3rd
***All data are compared to the year before
****Under 90 days, Kuwait and Qatar citizens do not require a visa to visit Turkey. Saudi Arabia and UAE citizens only require applying for a visa online prior to their arrival, available for a duration of 90 days.
*****June 10th – July 7th 2019