The impacts of tax-free shopping in the EU – Global Blue and Oxford Economics

The 6-page Global Blue report starts by setting out the process that typically applies to tax free shopping for non-EU visitors and the benefits that VAT refund operators provide to EU Member States, merchants and shoppers.  The report then cites evidence from an Oxford Economics study suggesting that in 2019 tax free shopping underpinned €12 billion of additional spend on retail and other tourism activities within the EU. 

It is claimed that of the ten million non-EU shoppers who used tax refund schemes within the EU in 2019 1.8 million had visited as a direct result of these schemes. 

A separate study purports to show that countries offering tax free shopping witnessed an annual growth rate in the sale of luxury items to international visitors that was twice that of sales to domestic residents in the period 2009-19. 

The report then describes the opportunities for further digitalisation of tax free shopping within the EU, improved interoperability and consistency of approach adopted by EU Member States. 

The 9-page Oxford Economics report often cited in the Global Blue synopsis showcases all of the statistical nuggets highlighted previously, alongside text that describes what tax free shopping is, the size of the market within the EU, the evidence that indicates it attracts visitors to the destination and encourages them to spend more while there. 

Infographics describe the direct, indirect and induced impact of tax free shopping on jobs, GDP and tax revenues, namely 233,000 jobs, €13.9 billion of EU GDP and €5.2 billion of tax revenues.  Forecasts for the contribution that tax free shopping could be making by 2025 are then described before the argument that tax contributions from tax free shopping enabled economic activity outweighs the loss through refunds is presented. 


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