Tighten supply and demand, Africa airport retail told

By Luke Barras-hill |

Understanding the peculiarities of local culture can enrich the travel retail experience in Africa.

Successfully developing airport retail in Africa requires a strong focus on ‘bringing supply closer to demand’, ACI Africa Secretary General Ali Tounsi has told TRBusiness.

In a detailed report available in the TRBusiness November e-zine, this publication outlines that the post-Covid challenges facing Africa’s air transport sector cut deeper than merely increasing the share of non-aeronautical revenues at its airports.

Historically, African airports have relied heavily on aviation charges and fees as their primary source of income but the changing landscape offers new opportunities to drive efficiencies in areas such as commercial revenue generation and travel retail and duty free can play an important role.


In the report, ACI Africa’s Tounsi says stakeholders should acknowledge the peculiarities of local culture ‘and not necessarily fall into the trap of replicating what has been a successful business model in other regions’.

Safeguarding and fostering commercial revenue streams in a perpetually volatile climate remains a challenge for Africa’s travel retail stakeholders. Pictured is Aelia Duty Free at Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

“While retail concessions are largely a function of traffic and of the purchasing power of the passengers, and where cultural patterns also play a role, the supply-side affects the picture, as retail remains under-developed at a large number of African airports with the traditional range of duty free products being often irrelevant to the local population,” he explained.

“In this spirit, ACI Africa continues to advocate for airports, airlines and duty free retailers to work closer together towards a common goal. Joint partnerships and initiatives are thus favoured to create an integrated travel retail experience at airports.”

Ali Tounsi, Secretary General, ACI Africa.

According to a data snapshot from Generation Research supplied to TRBusiness, Africa DF&TR revenues sunk by 64% year-on-year to US$320 million in 2020 after experiencing growth of +8.8% year-on-year to $880m in 2019.

At -64%, the continent’s performance in perfumes & cosmetics – which on a global level has traditionally accounted for the greatest share of category spending across the industry – mirrored Africa’s total decline in DF&TR revenues.

Indeed, Africa’s overall growth underperforms against that of global DF&TR for the year in question (-47.5%) as stronger Asia Pacific P&C sales – notably in downtown shops in Korea and China – helped to arrest a drop in worldwide DF&TR sales to $45bn.

On the other hand, retail concessions at Africa’s airports in 2019 accounted for 37% of total non-aeronautical revenue. This took the third highest share after Asia Pacific (44.1%) and the Middle East (49.8%), and significantly outperformed the global average (26.4%).

To read the full report, click here.

Ali Tounsi, Secretary General, ACI Africa addressed delegates at the recent MEADFA Conference in Dubai. Stay close to TRBusiness for further analysis of Africa’s DF&TR landscape.


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