You are on the way to that sunny destination; you have finished being interrogated by that customs officer on a power trip and you have made it through the invasive security pat downs. At this point you are on your way to your gate when all of a sudden you see a vision. It is beautiful and breathtaking one… No it isn’t the art sculpture in the terminal! It is stores! Lots of them! Duty free, gift shops, and clothing stores including luxury brands!… Aren’t you glad you gave yourself that extra time! It is now time to shop before the take off!
Over the years airports and retailers have had a symbiotic relationship with one another; airport operator’s benefit from lease revenue and retailers profit from steady foot traffic and the ability to reach a broader target market.
Key metrics for airport retail designers are “transfer rates”, “retail dwell” and “sight density”
Transfer rate refers to the rate of passengers that are staying in the terminals between flights as opposed to those catching planes and those on the way out after arriving.
Retail dwell refers to the length of time passengers reside in a retail space.
Sight Density refers to the number of passengers that are directed through a particular space.
Although leasing costs for retailers within airports are substantially higher- approximately $150-$200 per square foot compared to $20-$50 per square foot in a mall setting, the returns can be high. Take UK knitwear retailer Pringle of Scotland. Their small terminal 3 shop has twice the sales per square foot than its boutiques in central London.
Here are some other neat facts about retail and retail transactions at London’s Heathrow Airport – recipient for the second year in a row of the Skytrax World Airport Award for Best Shopping.
- Heathrow has over 740,000 square feet of retail space
- Heathrow is home to more than 500 shops
- Luxury designer brands such as Prada, Gucci and Ermenegildo Zegna can be found as well as premium UK retailer Harrods.
- Heathrow sells 55,000 bottles of fragrances per week
- If all the bread from the sandwiches made at Heathrow in a year were stacked you could make a tower 22 miles high
- Heathrow sells enough bottled water each year to fill two Olympic size swimming pools
What are your thoughts on airport retailing as a consumer? Are your expectations even higher in this type of environment? Have you seen any innovative concepts you would like to share?
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