Airports, stations provide captive market for retailers

Mon Dec 8, 2014 10:13am EST
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By Emma Thomasson

BERLIN (Reuters) - Airports and train stations are home to ever increasing numbers of retail outlets, serving travelers who want to buy goods on the go and brands targeting a global and mobile audience.

Despite a recent downturn in the luxury industry, high-profile deals in travel retail have underlined buoyant long-term growth prospects for a sector driven by emerging market jet setters and the trend towards convenience shopping.

"There is a switch from destination retail to shopping on the way to doing something else: work, holiday, business trip. It's about squeezing it in to our hectic lifestyles," said Ben Perkins, consumer expert at consultants Deloitte.

The sector is enjoying 10 percent annual growth and should nearly double by 2020 from 60 billion euros ($73.60 billion) in 2013, according to travel data firm Generation Research.

While airports have long been the preserve of luxury brands, mid-tier names like Spanish fashion chain Desigual and British department store John Lewis [JLPLC.UL] are now snapping up prime locations to raise their profile among travelers.

"Be in travel if you want to be a global brand," said Manel Jadraque, managing director of Desigual, which has helped its colorful garments gain a wider following by opening stores in top airports, hotels, resorts, ports and train stations.

"Nearly 50 percent intend to purchase while waiting to take a plane or a train. Those people are international, they are captive, they have two or three hours to kill," said Laurence Anne Parent, managing partner at Advancy strategy consultants.

Even supermarkets are joining in, opening convenience stores and pick-up locations in stations as customers shift from weekly shops at out-of-town stores to smaller, more frequent buys.   Continued...