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Chinese Outbound Tourists Survey 2019: Growing Traveler Numbers Fuel Total Spending Growth

Executive Summary

This report details the results of our fifth annual survey of Chinese overseas tourists’ travel, spending behavior and preferences. The top six takeaways from our 2019 survey are:

  • Growth in the total number of trips taken by Chinese tourists has been driven by more people traveling, with our survey finding the average number of trips per traveler declined in 2019.
  • Traveling independently – i.e., travelers making their own arrangements and not using a tour guide – became the most popular option this year, primarily driven by travelers from tier-one cities. This shift from group travel has negatively impacted outlet stores: Traditionally driven by group tourists, outlet stores captured 8.1% of total Chinese tourist retail spending, down from 9.3% a year ago.
  • We estimate Chinese tourists spent a total of $203 billion (¥1,390 billion) in overseas markets in the 12 months ended August 2019. Our survey found average total spend per trip increased 1.1% year over year on a comparable basis. Total retail spend increased 11% to an estimated $102 billion (¥701 billion), but average retail spend per trip declined 2.3%.
  • Beauty was again the most-bought retail category in this year’s survey. And, while last year the beauty category was in joint first position with clothing, footwear or accessories, our 2019 survey found beauty pulled ahead.
  • We continue to observe a decline in the proportion of travelers going overseas with a spouse/partner or with young children, and a jump in the proportion traveling with friends.
  • Consumers in China have become accustomed to using mobile apps for in-store purchases – and they expect the same seamless experience overseas. Retailers and service providers should look into securing the capability to accept digital payments using Chinese settlement mechanisms such as Alipay.

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