Airports Offer a $38 Billion Bright Spot for Retailers Facing Harsh Market Environment

Travel retail, particularly in airports, is currently a bright spot in the retail world. GlobalData’s latest report reveals that spending in airports hit $38 billion globally in 2016, and is set to grow by 27% to $49 billion by 2021.

Maureen Hinton, Group Research Director at Global Data Retail, comments: “Apart from the growing number of air travelers, increased security over recent years delivers a constantly changing captive audience for airside retailers, which claim 83% of all spending in airports.  This audience has time to kill and, especially when on holiday, is in the mood to spend.” 

This has given rise to the rapid development of retail space at airports as grateful retailers, who are seeing customers forsake high street shops for online and leisure experiences, welcome the opportunity to get in front of willing customers again. 

Hinton adds: “Airports appreciate the extra revenue and are willing to invest in creating a more inviting space for travelers. For example, in Singapore’s Changi airport you can catch a movie, browse new art, play games, pamper yourself in a spa and entertain your kids – the airport equivalent of a modern shopping center.”

Asia-Pacific airports generated the most spending in 2016, taking $14.8 billion through their tills. Chinese travelers were a particular boon to this market, as they seized the opportunity to buy duty free luxury goods.

Europe, meanwhile, ranks second on spending, hitting $10.7 billion in 2016. Indeed, one benefit of the UK’s Brexit decision was the subsequent increase in tourists to the country, who were attracted by the low value of the pound. 

Even the US, which has traditionally offered a poor shopping experience at airports, is cashing in and developing new retail spaces and offers. However, it is unfortunate that this coincides with President Trump’s attempts to curb immigration, which is making regular travelers think twice about visiting the country.

About GlobalData

4,000 of the world’s largest companies, including over 70% of FTSE 100 and 60% of Fortune 100 companies, make more timely and better business decisions thanks to GlobalData’s unique data, expert analysis and innovative solutions, all in one platform. GlobalData’s mission is to help our clients decode the future to be more successful and innovative across a range of industries, including the healthcare, consumer, retail, financial, technology and professional services sectors.


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