Tax free sales boom in the Finnish cities of Kouvola and Imatra

Russian tourists are estimated to spend about EUR 200,000 million in Finland during the first two weeks of 2014.

The cities of Kouvola and Imatra in eastern Finland enjoyed the fastest growth in tax free sales in 2013, according to statistics compiled by Global Blue Finland. Last year, tax free sales increased by 27% in Kouvola and by 25% in Imatra compared to 2012, with the increasing number of Russian visitors accounting for most of the growth. Imatra’s share of the total tax free sales in Finland is now 8% and Kouvola’s share is 2%.

Helsinki has the biggest share of the total tax free sales in Finland with 30%, followed by Lappeenranta, which is located near the Russian border, with 29.5%. Global Blue Finland’s figures do not include goods sold on invoice, where the value added tax is repaid to the customer when the invoice is stamped at the border and returned to the shop – a system that is almost as popular among Russian tourists as the tax free sales.

Record sales expected

The Finnish Tourist Board expects a record number of Russian tourists to visit Finland during the first two weeks of January, which is a major holiday season in Russia. More than 400,000 Russian tourists are forecast to spend about EUR 200,000 million in Finland.

Initial reports from luxury goods shops and the Stockmann department store in the Helsinki city centre suggest that sales have exceeded their expectations in the past two weeks, according to the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper.  Shopping Centre Manager Katja Hatakka confirms that a large number of Russian customers have visited the Galleria Esplanadi shopping centre during the turn of the year.

“Tax free sales in our shopping centre have increased by 23% compared to the year before. This shows that tourists form an important clientele. The contribution of Russian tourists stands out especially in January,” says Hatakka.

Sources: Yle.fi, Helsingin Sanomat

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