LONDON — Last autumn’s pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong may have been devastating for luxury goods sales in the region, but at they also encouraged Chinese customers to purchase high-end merchandise in other parts of the world. According to Barclays in London, the latest international Global Blue data for the month of December showed further acceleration in tourism spending growth, which rose 21.8 percent year-on-year, compared with November’s 5.1 percent rise.
Total tourism spend was up 11.1 percent in the fourth quarter, and up 4.3 percent in 2014. Barclays said the dynamic by nationality continues to reflect “the contrasting fortunes” of Chinese and Russian tourism spending. Russian spending declined 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 rouble and ratcheting up of international sanctions.
By contrast, Chinese tourist spending posted a rise of 49.4 percent year-on-year in December, resulting in an overall growth rate of 32.3 percent in the fourth quarter, and 18.3 percent in 2014.
“The strong performance of the Chinese tourist spending is again likely due to the partial redirection of Chinese spending from Hong Kong towards Europe and the rest of Asia as well as the weakening of the euro, which leads to the widening of the price differentials,” Barclays said. “We believe the strength of the Chinese tourism spending in Europe will be highlighted during the luxury reporting season and continue into 2015, although the partial redirection from Hong Kong to Europe is dilutive to margins as flagged by Burberry.”