Duty-free & travel retail sector faces bright future

Hong Kong’s duty-free retail sector belongs to one of the top 10 duty-free retailers, according to a study shared by the TFWA (Tax Free World Association).

Hong Kong’s duty-free retail sector belongs to one of the top 10 duty-free retailers, according to a study shared by the TFWA (Tax Free World Association).

NEW research has conrmed that the duty-free and travel retail sector faces a bright future at a time when other parts of the international retail market may continue to struggle, according to leading duty-free and travel retail trade association TFWA (Tax Free World Association). What is more, of the top 10 duty-free retailers, six come from Asia-Pacic, namely, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and Japan.

The sector, currently valued at a signicant US$62 billion according to duty-free and travel retail specialist Generation Research, had been growing steadily for the past six years, and while last year it suered a decline, the gures for the rst quarter of this year showed that the business is back on its upward trajectory. Total sales grew by just under 1% compared with the same period last year

Sales in Asia-Pacic, a region that has for some time made a very significant contribution to the expansion of the sector, saw strong growth of 5%. e fragrance and cosmetics category is the main driver of growth globally and its sales were up 7.8% in the first quarter while sales of wines and spirits were up by 4%. Sales on board ferries grew by 6.5% while airport sales remained stable.

TFWA president Erik Juul- Mortensen said that these figures allowed the sector to be cautiously optimistic. Within the wider travel and tourism industries, all pointers would suggest that this bullish prediction is justied.

Air traffic forecasts project that the number of people taking to the skies will continue to boom. The trade association Airports Council International said that passenger numbers worldwide will more than double from last year, when the number of air travellers reached 7.2 billion, to just more than 19 billion in 2035 — a compound annual growth of 5%.

The World Tourism Organisation’s report for last year showed that international tourist arrivals were up 4% to reach a record of 1.2 billion, 50 million more than in 2014. The latest figures for the rst half of this year showed that tourism got off to a strong start this year, with international arrivals up 4% compared with the same period last year.

“This can only be good news for our industry and all the indicators would suggest that we have plenty to be upbeat about,” said Juul-Mortensen. “is is a great sector to be in, and with growth rates that have been, in many years, the envy of many high street retailers, duty-free and travel retail presents a wealth of opportunities.”