Skip to main content

Big deal: Who shops the most at Helsinki Airport?

27.4.2016 at 06:00
Research into passenger behavior reveals that outbound travellers from China are the biggest spenders at Northern Europe’s leading long-haul airport.

Among outbound travellers who are willing to shop en route and abroad, there’s one group that is doing a good job of boosting sales in Finland, particularly at Helsinki Airport.

Research into passenger behavior reveals that tourists from China are the biggest spenders at Northern Europe’s leading long-haul airport. Travellers from Russia and South Korea complete the top three.

“The influx of Chinese tourists flying via Helsinki Airport or into Finland has been clearly visible, and shopping is one of their main priorities, especially duty-free shopping,” says Petra Merikanto, Customer Insight Manager at Finavia.

In 2015, over 293,000 departing Chinese passengers spent €16.6 million at Helsinki Airport. Their annual numbers have increased by 100,000 passengers from 2014. 56% were first-time visitors at Helsinki Airport.

According to Merikanto, some of the most popular products for Chinese tourists are chocolate, cosmetics and fragrances. The same study reveals that it is common for sightseers from China to buy tax-free products for their own use and for friends who requested for a specific item. The feeling of having made a good deal is important to their shopping experience.

Luxury products are expensive in China, and Chinese tourist-shoppers are avoiding the extremely high import duties at home that can often push the price of goods to twice the amount charged in Europe. They are likewise more confident that the items they purchase are authentic when they shop overseas.

The fact that Chinese travelers have grown into a very high-spending majority in the duty-free segment is part of a larger trend. According to tax refund company Global Blue’s annual review of the global tax-free shopping market, the growth of tax-free spending was heavily dependent on Chinese shopping activity in 2015.

A report published in late 2015 by Fung Business Intelligence Centre Global Retail & Technology and China Luxury Advisors projects that outbound Chinese travelers are poised to become an even more powerful force within the next half-decade.

The Wall Street Journal points out that the Yuan’s relative strength against the Euro continues to fuel travel to Europe despite China’s economic slowdown and stock market slide. Relaxed visa application requirements are also contributing to the increase.

Read more about Helsinki airport's services.