Adversity remains but categories returning to growth, shows ETRC index

By Luke Barras-hill |

Footfall is improving at airport hubs, including Heathrow (pictured).

Global travel retail value and unit sales are improving and the underlying dynamics leave room for optimism despite industry revenues falling 59.8% in 2021, the latest ETRC Business Performance Index has shown (see below image gallery).

Drawing on submitted data from travel retailers compiled by Pi Insight and benefitting from passenger data courtesy of ForwardKeys, the newly released ETRC Index is an exclusive service provided to the association’s members.

ETRC points out that despite the aforementioned fall in DF&TR sales in 2021, the industry is still recovering quicker than passenger numbers (-65% in 2021 versus 2019).

When compared with 2020, DF&TR sales were up 46.8% and pax volumes increased by 32%.

Julie Lassaigne, Secretary General, ETRC.


Spend per passenger jumped by 11% versus 2020 and 14% compared with 2019, it continued.

The main categories profiled (beauty, liquor, tobacco, food and fashion) returned to growth at the end of 2021, spurred by a strong performance in the second half of the year [encouraging given the disruption caused by Omicron towards the end of 2021 – Ed], though some categories are showing stronger underlying growth than others.

ETRC President Jennifer Cords pointed towards impetus from the ‘revenge shopping’ phenomenon and flagged the importance of the industry as a key brand-building channel.

She added that data remains important in convincing policymakers of DF&TR’s essential contribution to the wider transport and tourism eco-system.

Julie Lassaigne, Secretary General at ETRC, said: “I am particularly proud we can provide this service to our members. Twenty twenty-one has been an incredibly challenging year, but the second half showed the resilience and attractiveness of duty free and travel retail in Europe and we are confident this trend will continue.”

Steve Hillam, Managing Director at Pi Insight, added: “We have good reasons to be optimistic for a strong recovery in 2022 with solid foundations in place and air passenger traffic numbers continuing to recover, albeit still hampered by the lack of non-European passengers.”

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