European sales slump -10.4% in Jan-April

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Analysis some four months into 2009 shows that European duty free and travel retail sales have dropped -10.4% (in Euros) compared to the same period in 2008, according to the ETRC Index.

‘Over the two months March and April sales declined -9.1% as compared to -13.5% in the January and February period. Thus we may expect and hope that we have seen a bottoming out in the market decline, with the business climate seemingly gradually improving month by month’, says Yngve Bia, President Generation Research compiling the ETRC Index on behalf of the European Travel Retail Council.

Steve Brock, General Manager ITR Cadbury, takes a more careful stance when interpreting developments in the first four months of the year: ‘The decline in two-months period March and April is still very close to the average decline from January to April [-10.4%, Ed?s note] and I would not try to draw any conclusions from this data to say that things are improving. They are not improving?yet. We will not know in reality until the end of summer. Some retailers are now up, some are still strongly down and it is a very mixed picture. Most of the big retailers are clearly still double digit or high-single digit down versus last year’.

Among the product categories, confectionery seems to be the least affected recording a decline of -6.2% followed by liquor (-9.3%) and beauty (-10.0%).

‘Confectionery continues to perform well due to lower price points on average and very strong promotional support everywhere’, says Brock. ‘In general we think that, on the one hand, people are buying less for themselves but still gifting to others and, on the other hand, when they are gifting they are gifting with lower price items such as confectionery. However, we are still down overall and there is no clear trend from what we have seen as to how or when this will change’.

The product categories hardest hit include Watches & Jewellery (-16.3%), Other ‘Luxury Goods’ (-15.6%), Tobacco (-13.1%) and Clothes & Accessories (-11.7%).

Christian S?ltemeyer, Senior Key Account Manager and Manager Category Management Duty Free, Fraport AG, reports that these results ? including the trends in the categories ? are pretty much in line with the developments at Frankfurt airport.

‘Special for us is that we in 2008 have added and optimised square meters. So now we are comparing 2009 results to a business partly affected by construction phases in 2008’, says S?ltemeyer. ‘Most important of all: with significantly falling passenger numbers [while adding new projects and being engaged in construction works] we now have more square meters per million departing passengers ? which is still in general the biggest issue here at Frankfurt’.

It is generally believed that the ferry sector has not been as hard hit as the airport sector. Magnus Skj?rshammer, Purchasing Director AS Tallink Silja Duty Free, says: ‘When times are difficult passengers prefer to travel short distances and closer to home’. In June 2009 the Tallink Silja Line ferries and cruise lines transported a total of 795,569 passengers, representing an impressive +18.0% increase on last year with the largest growth seen on routes between Latvia-Sweden, Estonia-Sweden and Finland-Estonia.

Tomas Ros?n, Business Manager Travel Retail DFDS Seaways added: ‘I can confirm that we are not as hard hit as the ETRC figures are showing’.

The statistical contents in this feature are only as up-to-date as their availability and compilation allowed at the time of publishing. All statistical numbers shown here are subject to review and revision in subsequent features and charts as additional source material becomes available.

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