Last year, we reported on a trend happening in Asia that is finding its way to the U.S. and that is the shipping container building movement. Now as retail looks for ways to get back into brick-and-mortar and for a reprieve from struggling malls, could U.S. airports be the next big win in retail?

It’s Working in Metros Around the World

Anyone who has ever travelled by air in the U.S. knows just how pricey those retail shops inside of the airport can be, but yet, people are still willing to spend $5 for a bottle of water at the airport when they otherwise would not. That’s because there is nowhere else to go.

Most brick-and-mortar retailers have taken a hit due to e-commerce, but not airport retail – this sector has hardly felt e-commerce’s impact. As Bisnow puts it, “A combination of consistent foot traffic and travelers who have extra time and money with few other places to go have made airports an ideal alternative to the traditional mall.”

This idea may be new here in the U.S. but it is already working in big cities around the world. In Asia, Singapore and Beijing have been filling their airports with mall-style retail for years. Dubai in the Middle East has mall-style airports and so does London.

The biggest shop supplier for airports around the globe is the Swiss-based Dufry AG which over the last year has seen its revenue increase by 8% as U.S. airports begin jumping into this arena. In fact, DFW (Dallas-Fort Worth) International Airport is the first in the U.S. to open up a duty-free mall inside of its airport’s international terminal which pushed sales up by nearly 50% from January 2017 to January of this year.

Airport Retail Experimenting with Experiential Shopping

Clearly there are massive opportunities for the 44,000 airports across the U.S. and for retailers to try to recoup some of the losses experienced over the last few years as malls and shopping centers everywhere have shut their doors.

In the same way that brick-and-mortar retailers are looking to new and innovative ways to attract foot traffic back to their stores, these new mall-style airport shops could do the same. In places like Dubai and London, shoppers are treated to a unique experience in these airport malls.

Different levels provide different forms of entertainment and retail, including wine tastings or even airport parties in the bars. U.S. retailers could infuse their airport stores with the new experiential shopping trend to make big waves in this space.

Imagine upscale hair salons, custom fashion outlets, along with shows and events all being offered in different parts of the airport while you wait for a flight. This move could be the next big win in retail for savvy retailers that are thinking outside of the box.


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