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Greece Becomes Europe’s Tax-Free Shopping Champion

Santorini, Greece
Despite a decrease in contributions from Asia and Russia, American and Arab buyers have emerged as the main driving forces. Credit: Mariamichelle / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Greece has became a European champion in regards of tax-free shopping against the background of the turbulent economic situation in the world. The country has become the favored destination for duty-free purchases by visitors from third countries. Although there has been a decrease in contributions from Asia and Russia, American and Arab buyers have emerged as the main driving forces behind this accomplishment.

In a year marked by challenges, Greece’s retail landscape has undergone a notable revival. While average tourist spending might appear cautious, the tax-free market tells a different story.

Global Blue, a respected international tax-free transaction clearing group, reports that Greece’s performance exceeds that of its European counterparts. With a remarkable +182 percent surge in tax-free transactions compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019, Greece stands at the forefront. France, Spain, Italy, and Switzerland follow with increases of 136, 127, 122, and 121 percent respectively.

This notable performance in July mirrors the consistent growth observed throughout the first half of the year. Although Greece’s overall sales figures might not match those of certain competitors, this can be attributed to market size and product variety.

Adopting a wider view of Europe, the trend of recovering tax-free sales remains steady, reaching 118 percent in July 2023 and maintaining momentum from the second quarter. A noteworthy insight from Global Blue suggests that if we account for the return of Chinese and Russian tourists, whose numbers are yet to rebound, the recovery rate could reach an impressive 156 percent in July.

Of particular importance, key source markets such as the United States and Gulf nations have shown deep support. US buyer recovery reached 257 percent in July, while Gulf countries contributed with a 221 percent recovery rate for the same period.

In the broader context of global retail, tax-free sales surged by 121 percent in July, emphasizing the sector’s resilience during turbulent economic times.

Positive Economic Outlook for Greece

Earlier in August, Greece was shown to be a top investment choice in emerging markets, as highlighted by Marshall Stocker, co-head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley. Stocker attributed this recognition to Greece’s noteworthy enhancement of economic institutions under the current government.

As reported, the nation’s improvements in the rule of law have facilitated banking sector reforms and boosted corporate tax cuts. Furthermore, Greece’s status as the second-fastest-growing economy in Europe underscores its allure for investors. Stocker also anticipates a potential green credit investment rating for Greece by the end of the year. Notably, the Greek stock market’s impressive fifty percent return in recent years, coupled with its favorable earnings-to-dividend ratio, emphasizes its promising trajectory.

Before that, the Japanese rating agency Rating and Investment Information (R&I) upgraded Greece’s economy rating to investment grade BBB-, signifying a positive turn for the country’s economic prospects. This rating is seen as a precursor to potential upgrades recognized by the European Central Bank. The decision follows six positive developments, including strong economic growth, improved fiscal balance, and significant reductions in non-performing loans.

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