• Karen Estrada

Duty Free Trends for 2019

Updated: Mar 22, 2019

I travel a lot. (Like most people in my industry), and have spent countless hours walking through the airport before departing to my next destination, and every time I land on a different country is patently clear that we have entered into a new age of Airport Retail.


Brands and retailers alike are challenging themselves to re-think “Duty Free” as the place to get a few travel toiletries and snacks. They want to deliver a cutting-edge urban shopping centre retail experience, and some of them are actually achieving it.


Duty Free Store Design & Manufacture by Artco Group

And it makes total sense as airports are becoming places where people spend lots of their time. A recent Supply Chain Dive article noted that North American travelers wait an average of 90 minutes between airport security and boarding at medium to large hubs. Furthermore, "Between 76% and 90% of concession space is after the security lines, in the "airside" part of the airport (versus "landside" before security)."


This is all great news, but we have to take into account the fact that only 5-10 percent of travelers visit duty-free retail stores in the terminal, according to Technavio


So the question is, what can Duty Free retailers do in order to bring more people to their stores?

Let’s start with Store Experience; if airport retail is going to achieve the same success as high street is important to emphasize on store experience. the idea is to differentiate from the rest by pushing the boundaries and taking risks. The sensory experience of physical retail can’t be replaced by digital. A store environment that speaks to your core brand values will always bring its loyal customers back.


Blending Digital and Physical is key. In-store pickup and a full integration with the store website is crucial in order to deliver an seamless customer experience. ordering a product while on the plane to have someone handing it to you as you arrive to your destination is what a lot of Duty Free stores are aiming at.


It is expected for Global duty-free retail to grow 8.56 per year until 2021. 62% of US consumers state that the most important part of travelling is to explore the authentic culture of the destination, rising to 78% for Chinese respondents (source: Expedia/Future Foundation, 2016). What we can learn from this is that customers are looking for unique, local experiences everywhere they travel. And if they can have a taste of the local flavor (not the same toblerone on a different shelf) they will try and let all of their friends through their social media channels.


We'll be at the 2019 Travel Retail & Summit of the Americas, booth #826

In conclusion, an omni channel experience centered on the customer, built from a well designed and innovative concept can make your airport retail business stand out from the rest. Businesses that decide to play safe and offer little in terms of differentiation will eventually be replaced by brands who know how to speak to their customers.



Karen Estrada has over 15 years of experience in the Retail Design Industry,

specializing in Duty Free Store Design. She is currently working as Director of Luxury

Goods at Artco Group. An award winning global retail design and Manufacture company located in Miami. FL

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