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What are the key trends in global travel retail?

The return of global travel retail following a two year almost total hiatus, has seen a number of new trends emerge, as well as the acceleration of others, as a report from leading travel research firm m1nd-set’s shows.

The company’s GTR Shopping Trends in Q2 2022 report showed that duty free footfall for alcohol had increased significantly during the second quarter of 2022 compared with pre-Covid trends, rising 17%, although the purchase rate remained stable compared with pre-pandemic behaviour.

There is some evidence of a change in behaviour, with post-pandemic alcohol duty-free visitors more likely to browse but are less prone to be converted into buyers, the report said. Alcohol conversion rate have decreased “significantly” it said, falling 39%. However, promisingly, the amount spent on alcohol has increased over the quarter compared with pre-Covid and with the 2021-Q1 2022 period.

Customer missions have also changed as a result of the pandemic, with alcohol buyers significantly more inclined to purchase with sharing in mind, an increase of 21% compared to before the pandemic, and less likely to be buying booze as a gift, by around 30% on pre-Covid levels. Purchasing for themselves remained stable at around 46%, in line with the pre-pandemic trend.

Planning is an increasingly important part of the mix, with one in three alcohol buyers planning in advance, knowing which brands or products to look for in the duty free store. Impulse purchases remained limited in Q2 2022, but consistent with pre-pandemic levels.

Experience in store is also becoming increasingly important for alcohol duty free shoppers. The report showed that interactions with sales staff have become more frequent (up to 60% versus pre-Covid levels, or 74% in Q2) and more influential on final-purchase decisions – with nearly eight out of 10 alcohol purchases in Q2 2022 influenced by the sales staff, compared with under half (49%) before the pandemic.

Displaying a range of products was also a key factor – conversion rates were higher when there was a range of products on promotion, or products that are perceived as unique or exclusive to duty free than before the pandemic.

The share of alcohol duty free shoppers noticing touch points had increased during 2021, and although online is one of the most important touch point for consumers, its importance has decreased compared with 2017-2020,  while offline touch points in a traveller ’s home city have become significantly more relevant than before.

See here for our recent global travel retail feature in the September issue.

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