Skift Take

Gone are the days when duty-free retailers could lazily rely on consumers to freely spend their cash in airports. The rise of online shopping has forced them to become much more creative when it comes to generating sales.

The Skift New Luxury newsletter is our weekly newsletter focused on the business of selling luxury travel, the people and companies creating and selling experiences, emerging trends, and the changing consumer habits around the sector.

We’ll keep in mind the needs of the specialist travel agents who sell these products as well as the sophisticated consumers who shop for them.

Before online retail became such a big thing, duty-free retailers had it pretty easy. Customers, with plenty of time to kill, would wander around an airport looking to spend their money, thinking they were getting a good deal.

But with most people now comfortable shopping on the web, this isn’t necessarily still true. Of course these stores still have a captive audience, but consumers are a lot more clued in when it comes to pricing.

To get around this, airports have had to invest heavily in upgrading the shopping experience and retailers too are changing the way they do business. This week, writer Laura Powell has been looking into the future of duty-free shopping to see what companies are doing to keep travelers spending.

— Patrick Whyte, Europe Editor

Five Looks at Luxury

The Shifting Strategies of Luxury Duty-Free Retailers: With competition from online retailers rising, airport duty-free shops selling luxury goods need to up the ante. Some methods they are using seem to be successful, while others may start annoying potential customers.

The Wharf Turns Washington Into a Waterfront City: Even an established tourism city like Washington, D.C. needs new destinations. While the capital city’s newest attraction has nothing to do with politics (thank goodness), it has everything to do with breaking down the walls between tourists and locals.

Buick Bets on Attainable Luxury With Latest Sub-Brand: Although the auto industry sits adjacent to travel with its own tricks and trials, executives in both camps are looking to respond to luxury consumers’ shifting priorities with the right balance of brands and packaging. Avenir is a good example of a team that’s doing it right.

Celebrity Cruises Is Building a Lux New Ship to Sail the Galapagos: People already pay a pretty penny to sail the Galapagos Islands. Will they spend more to do it on a new, high-end ship? Celebrity Cruises is banking on it.

International First Class Fades Even as Emirates and Singapore Debut New Suites: Another article about the death of first class? We get it, already. As business class becomes more lavish, fewer passengers are willing to pay a major premium for a first class suite.


Skift Europe Editor Patrick Whyte [[email protected]] curates the New Luxury newsletter. The newsletter is emailed every Tuesday.

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Tags: airports, luxury

Photo credit: Model Laura Bailey reopens Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5 in January 2015. Duty-free shopping is still very important for airports. Heathrow Airport

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