MOSCOW — Russian retailers that have already benefited from an influx of Chinese tourists cheered a change in regulations allowing tax-free shopping.
“The introduction of the VAT refund system in Russia is long-awaited and welcomed news,” luxury Moscow department store Tsum said in a statement Thursday. “We expect that the new measure can double the turnover of our sites within three years.”
Tsum, its DLT branch in Saint Petersburg and Tretyakovsky Proyezd — one of the toniest shopping streets in Moscow — had been selected as test sites for the introduction of tax-free shopping in Russia. For its part, Tsum and DLT said they are “fully prepared for the launch of this system in 2018.”
Tsum plans to use payment systems convenient for tourists, Alipay and UnionPay, and already has staff that speak foreign languages.
The refund for tourists should be about 18 percent, minus fees of the tax-free operator, according to a government web site.
One of Moscow’s landmark retailers, Tsum has weathered Russia’s economic crisis by offering what it bills as “Milan pricing,” which has encouraged locals to shop more at home and attracted Asian consumers also. It is understood that the retailer reduced its markup to 2.4 times from 3 times the wholesale price, and Tsum saw tourist flows from China double in 2016.
Riccardo Tortato, men’s fashion director of Tsum and Moscow and DLT, said the timing for tax-free shopping is optimal as Moscow and Saint Petersburg will be invaded by football fans when Russia hosts the FIFA World Cup 2018.