Consumers in China spent $116.8 billion on luxury goods abroad in 2015, according to China Daily. This translates to 46% of the global volume of high-end goods, which includes branded leather goods, cosmetics and electronics, according to consultants at Beijing-based Fortune Character Group, which derived these figures from the revenues of some 20,000 brands.
The government says that 120 million Chinese tourists — just about 1% of the population — went overseas in 2015, and contributed to 12% of global spending on their holidays.
Many Chinese buyers are keen to make their high-end purchases overseas because luxury goods imported into China are priced at a premium, in part because of high import tariffs. The China Chamber of International Commerce found last year that high-end goods were priced at up to 68% higher in China compared to prices in the U.S. and Europe.
This has resulted in many overseas brands shutting their mainland stores, such as French fashion house Louis Vuitton, which closed stores in Guangzhou, Harbin and Urumqi last year. Other luxury goods brands such as Burberry, Hermes, Armani and Prada also shut outlets in China over the past two years.
Some brands remain bullish on China, however. Apple, for one, has been aggressively expanding in the country in the past year, and has set a goal to have 40 stores in Greater China by mid-2016. Domestic retail has been growing as an economic driver for the country, as the economy faces its slowest growth rate in two decades. Consumption contributed to 66.4% of GDP in 2015, up 15.4% from 2014.