Rising Gatwick sales show travel retail is key to fashion, beauty

London Gatwick Airport’s annual results released on Friday underlined just how important retail is to the travel industry and how important travelling shoppers are to the retail sector.


Gatwick Airport


The UK’s second-largest airport said that retail revenue rose a healthy 6.9% to £163 million in the year to March 31 with fashion and especially beauty being key categories in its retail mix.

Admittedly, not all of the rise was about product sales as dining and drinking came into the mix and amounted to £32.7 million of the £163 million figure. But Duty and tax-free multi brand store revenue rose 5% to £50.3 million, even though average spend per passenger dipped slightly (by 0.8%) to £3.64.

While that figure looks small, it has to take into account the fact that some passengers spent nothing at all while others bought very little.

But there were clearly enough travellers buying sunglasses, handbags, perfumes and make-up palettes to drive that turnover up. This is especially impressive given that there was a temporary reduction in retail square footage due to the relocation of World Duty Free’s North terminal departure while refurbishment work was happening.

Meanwhile, revenue from specialist shops rose to £39.9m from £38.6m a year earlier as new stores and pop-ups opened. Those pop-ups appear to have made an impact with the South terminal also adopting the same strategy in the current 2017/18 fiscal year.

Brands including Havaianas, North Face, Cath Kidston, Next, Dune, M&S, Boots, Reiss and Jack Wills have all recently either opened debut stores at Gatwick, opened pop-ups or upgraded stores. The inclusion of the Jack Wills activewear line in its new location underlines the airport’s importance as the athletic range is only available in a few of the brand’s physical stores.

Gatwick is planning to open more new stores in the months ahead as it caters for rising passenger numbers. The number of people passing through the airport rose 7.7% last year with a 13.6% growth in long-haul passengers. With the value of the British pound still low and looking set to stay that way for a while, long-haul visitors look like they’re set to increase even further.

Gatwick currently caters for 45 million passengers a year, up from 32 million in 2009 when it moved into independent ownership.

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