Shopping is a critical part of tourism. It brings in revenue and foreign exchange earnings, creates jobs, and gives travel destinations more variety. It can help spread economic development across the regions, particularly through out-of-town retail malls, parks and villages. It can also be a major factor for travelers when choosing their destination.
In 2019, globally, retail tourism generated US$ 178.2 billion, which represents 6% of Travel & Tourism’s direct contribution to the world’s GDP and more than 15% in some countries.
At a regional level, in 2019, retail tourism directly contributed US$ 65.9 billion in Asia-Pacific, US$ 55.1 billion in Europe, US$ 43.3 billion in the Americas, US$ 10.3 billion in the Middle East and US$ 3.6 billion in Africa.
In 2019, the largest direct contributors of retail tourism to GDP were the United States (US) (US$ 34.71) and mainland China (US$ 20.45). Countries that relied most on retail tourism – with the highest relative contributions of retail tourism to Travel & Tourism – included Zambia (17.6%), Sweden (16.2%), Australia (15.6%), Pakistan (15.3%) and Jordan (13.9%).
In 2019, retail tourism supported 5.24 million jobs in Asia-Pacific and 0.95 million jobs in Europe – the two regions with the highest contribution of retail tourism to employment.
In 2021, the Americas saw the highest year on year increase in retail tourism direct contribution to GDP (+US$ 7.54 billion). This followed a sharp decline in 2020 due to COVID-19.
The countries with the highest retail tourism direct contribution to GDP in 2021 were the US (US$ 23.88bn), mainland China (US$ 9.08bn), Germany (US$ 6.69bn), Japan (US$ 6.27bn), India (US$ 3.95bn), the UK (US$ 3.60bn) and France (US$3.27bn).
In anticipation of an increase in outbound Chinese travel and its impact on retail sales over the next three years, total retail spending by Chinese tourists in the Asia-Pacific region could reach up to US$53.45 billion in 2023 and could reach US$84.13 billion by 2025.
Chinese retail tourists are expected to spend the most in Northeast Asia, with total tourism retail revenue reaching US$73.96 billion, US$57.60 billion, and US$45.62 billion by 2025 under the mild, medium, and severe scenarios, respectively.