All hail the splurgers from the east

By Xu Lin ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-11-28 07:29:51

All hail the splurgers from the east

Photo provided to China Daily

They are the world's latter-day Julius Caesars, taking a leaf out of the history books in which the Roman emperor is recorded as declaring after a spectacular victory: "I came, I saw, I conquered."

Chinese travelers who have made their way to distant shores may have a little less to boast about, but their sense of conquest as they prepare to return home is no less palpable: "I came, I saw, I shopped."

Like Caesar, these tourists set out on their missions with single-minded devotion, and it is easy to spot them in London, New York, Paris and elsewhere. They are the ones with extraordinary dexterity, able to hang a seemingly limitless number of swish shopping bags from this shoulder, that shoulder, this hand and that hand. And they are likely to be the ones who look the happiest at the airport tax refund center when they leave, having large refunds.

Of course, you don't really need history books to make sense of all this. A glance at Global Travel Shopping Report 2015 will tell you that more than half the Chinese who headed overseas in the 10 months to October listed shopping as their primary reason for doing so.

That is based on tourism shopping figures said to take into account 600 million independent Chinese tourists, which were part of the report published recently by the tourism website, the news app Toutiao and the Bank of China.

They report, too, that the famed penchant among Chinese on overseas shopping ventures for luxury goods has shifted to items that improve quality of life such as skincare products, cosmetics and daily necessities such as kitchenware.

Ma Yutao, head of the data research center of, says the reasons for the boom in tourism shopping include many countries relaxing visa rules, more direct flights between China and other countries, appreciation of the yuan and the worries of Chinese consumers about food safety.

Add to that the fact that a flourishing Chinese online tourism industry allows travelers to gather screeds of information such as prices and product specifications within minutes and to share tips with others, and you have reached critical mass for a shopping bonanza of which retailers worldwide are the grateful beneficiaries.

"Some want to buy brands or products that are sold only overseas," Ma says. "Some have this idea in their heads that if it is a foreign product it must be good."

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