Destinations Asia

Shopping Shifts From Trip Accessory to Leading Travel Motivator

@SamShankman

May 28, 2014 8:00 am

Skift Take

As the number of international travelers interested in retail grows, the destinations that benefit the most will cater to their wants with global luxury brands, local goods and language-specific help.

— Samantha Shankman

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Lars Plougmann  / Flickr

Tourists walk outside of the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Lars Plougmann / Flickr


The rise of Chinese travelers has been called the “biggest phenomenon to hit the global travel industry since the invention of commercial flight” and their habits are having an impact on destinations’ priorities worldwide. One of the sectors where this is most obvious is retail.

Chinese travelers alongside other growing outbound markets including many Asian nations and Brazil are spending more time and money on retail than other demographics and past travelers. These growing number of tourists are selecting destinations based largely around shopping opportunities.

“Shopping for pleasure is no longer a purely incidental activity to dip into while traveling for leisure. Today, for millions of tourists it represents the principal – or one of the principal – motivations for traveling,” the UNWTO concludes in its recent Global Report on Shopping Tourism.

The statement is proven again and again in the statistics that top out with Chinese and Brazilian travelers’ luxurious shopping budgets. For example, the average Chinese traveler in Paris spent almost $4,000, or half their total trip cost, on shopping in 2013. Brazil started taxing its residents in an effort to quell their overseas spending sprees.

The importance of shopping for any tourism economy is not new. In 2012, visitors to New York City spent more money on shopping, $8 billion, than any other cost outside of accommodations.

But this shift from seeing retail as a trip accessory to a primary trip motivators is giving way to an opportunity for emerging nations to identify themselves as shopping destinations.

When looking to invest in retail activities, destinations looking to market themselves to these growing outbound traveler groups would be smart to look outside of traditional brick-and-mortar stores like those visited on Fifth Avenue in New York City or Champs Elysee in Paris. A diversified set of retail options broadens a destination’s appeal to the type of travelers it can attract.

According the the UNWTO report, there are 8 types of retail areas that tourists visit in a destination.

Type Example
Informal Roadside hut, farmhouse, street vendor
Automated Retail Vending machines, kiosks
Market (Fixed) Daily or weekly makret held in fixed locaiton
Market (Seasonal) Christmas market, summer festival
Market (Roaming) Traveling marketing selling produce from another destination
Transport Infrastructure Shops located at airport, railway station, highway service station, ferry/cruise terminal
Urban Centre Village shops, town high street/shopping distrcit, city centre precinct
Peripheral Nucleus Out-of-town entertainment and retail complex, outlet, retail park

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