What does the future of airport retail look like?

What does the future of airport retail look like?

There’s a lot more going on at an airport than just flights. After check-in, vacation-goers enter into a world of premium shopping, restaurants, and services. The non-aviation business is integral to the airport’s income but often gets forgotten about when discussing futureproof the tourism market and introducing more sustainability.

So, what does the future look like for airports and their potential for non-aviation business?

Car parking, valet & repairs

Car parking is still the largest revenue source for airports, especially smaller and regional sites. Parking your car has become a stress-free way to arrive to the airport, rather than having to rely on taxis and public transport. Now, passengers can pre-book parking online at Parkon, as well as pay extra for valet parking or premium spaces. Regular travelers can take advantage of membership discounts and loyalty programs with cleaning and repairs available while they’re away.

A shift in consumer behavior

Airports are becoming more aware of the shift in consumer behavior. Nowadays, the average consumer expects to be able to purchase what they want, wherever they want, at any time. They’re digitally savvy, love to compare prices, and want to enjoy not just shopping for products and brands but also for experiences.

At the airport, strategies have been put in place over the past decade to provide a more passenger-centric model; offering travelers the chance to check in with the use of self-service desks, complimentary Wi-Fi as they wait for their flight as well as the option to enjoy treatments and services at the airport during delays.

That said, duty-fee is still a major player for airport retail. In 2015, Generation Research found that around $60 billion in sales were generated in airports globally. Luxury brands are still a popular favorite at airports around the world. In 2013, a crystal diamond-studded bottle of Scottish whisky sold for €250,000 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. However, there is still an obvious lack of variety for the smaller purse travelers. Many are looking for the chance to pick up a few affordable and practical pieces for their trip any beyond. Whether the gap between these two customers will be bridged in the future remains to be seen.

Food & beverage

HMSHost International CEO, Walter Seib, claims that ”eating is the new shopping,” with more than 50% of passengers now eating or drinking at the airport before their flight. Restaurants and bars on-site have become more sophisticated and modern, rather than having a simple fast-food offering. Celebrity chef restaurants are now popping up in airports to make every element of going on a trip a worthy spectacle. In the future, more space will be taken up by restaurants rather than stores.

The future looks food-based for airports, with the retail focus shifting from luxury shopping to more affordable items to suit the everyday traveler. As everyone starts to appreciate experience and convenience more so than shopping, it is likely that there will be this trend reflected in airports across the world.