HEY, BIG SPENDERS: Chinese shoppers are increasingly willing to part with their cash while traveling abroad, and the Far Eastern nation now accounts for nearly one-third of the Tax Free Shopping spend worldwide. According to a report by Global Blue, a Tax Free Shopping operator, the Chinese spent 18 percent more while traveling abroad in 2014, compared with the previous year.

Global Blue said China and Russia are by far “the most lucrative countries of origin for globe shoppers,” with the Chinese traveler now accounting for almost one third, or 30 percent, of all Tax Free Shopping, a government-endorsed program that allows tourists to buy goods in certain countries without paying value added tax.

Last year, the Russians generated 14 percent of global spend; the U.S. 4 percent; Indonesia, 3 percent; and Japan 2 percent. Global Blue added that five of the top ten nationalities increased their Tax Free Shopping spend by more than 15 percent last year: Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Almost 50 percent of purchases were related to fashion and clothing, which is by far the largest category globally. Watches and jewelry are the second largest category, accounting for 17 percent of purchases, the company said.

As reported in January, Global Blue said Russian spending fell every month in 2014, culminating in a decline of 43.8 percent year-on-year in December, and an overall fall of 16.8 percent in 2014, reflecting the weakness of the ruble and ratcheting up of international sanctions.

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