Faith in business performance in GTR wanes in Q4 2023, reveals flash poll

By Faye Bartle |

Confidence Tracker Q4 2023

Optimism levels in the global travel retail industry remained stable in the final quarter of 2023, yet respondents to the TR Confidence Tracker reveal that confidence regarding their organisation’s performance in the channel has diminished.

The flash poll shows the share of duty free & travel retail (DF&TR) stakeholders who are feeling confident about the travel retail industry in general remained stable in Q4 2023, with 68% of respondents to the latest TRBusiness TR Confidence Tracker, sponsored by Beam Suntory, feeling “very” or “quite” optimistic about the year ahead, compared to 67.56% in Q3 2023.

However, the data underscores that confidence levels have not improved following the significant 25 percentage point drop revealed in the previous flash poll (comparing Q3 to Q2 2023). 

Furthermore, the share of respondents feeling “quite pessimistic” increased slightly, reaching 8% (up from 5.41% in Q3 2023).

Confidence Tracker Q4 2023

Despite this, no respondents recorded being “very pessimistic”, showing that headwinds are still arguably presenting milder ‘red flags’ compared to Q2 2023 when 7% of respondents were “very pessimistic”.

Ending 2023 on a cautious note                      

A new dynamic evidenced in the Q4 2023 flash poll, which can be completed anonymously or on-the-record, reveals positive sentiment is faltering on business performance expectations.

Confidence Tracker Q4 2023

To the question ‘How optimistic are you about your organisation’s performance in travel retail over the next 12 months?’, 72% of respondents say they are holding either a “very optimistic” or “quite optimistic” viewpoint, compared to 81.08% in Q3 2023. This represents fall in confidence levels of around nine percentage points.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. As our data shows that although optimism levels diminished compared to early 2023, the sentiment still dominates.

Confidence Tracker Q4 2023

The results could be down to a ‘wait and see’ mindset at the end of the year, with the share of those with a neutral viewpoint (feeling “neither optimistic or pessimistic”) rising noticeably from 10.81% in Q3 to 24% in Q4.

Respondents submitting comments to this question shed light on what has prompted the shift in mindset.

Confidence Tracker Q4 2023

“There is uncertainty regarding the stability of certain regions due to the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and Russia/Ukraine, which may lead to restricted travel,” commented Karen Laubscher, Managing Director, Alchemy Business Development.

Others outlined a hopeful outlook, however, with Sergio Gallorini, Commercial Consumer Director, Ge.S.a.C. S.p.A. Aeroporto Internazionale di Napoli e Salerno (Napoli Salerno Airports) commenting: “Given [the] actual geopolitical situation (no new additional wars) I’m keeping [staying] an optimist.”

What provided the biggest boost for your company in DF&TR during Q4 2023 and how did this help propel you toward your year-end goals?

A selection of stakeholders who went on the record for the Q4 2023 TR Confidence Tracker submitted the following answers to our ‘question of the quarter’…

“The introduction of exclusive travel retail four-pack has been successful. [It is] listed already at one major retailer in our home airport and it was clearly the answer to requests from Asian, European and North American retailers.” Steven Candries, Export & TR Director, Chocdecor/Belfine.

“Additional investments in price promotions and HPP visibility helped us to a bolder performance in December – traditionally the strongest month for the chocolate category.” Sven Adriaenssens, Sr Channel Manager TR&DF, Guylian.

“We have launched a new limited edition of our Nectar Costasera Amarone in collaboration with CDF – the first time we customised a product for one single client. We are very pleased about the collaboration and the final result and are looking forward to seeing the travellers’ response.” Pier Giuseppe Torresani, Export & TR Director, Masi.

Additionally, Christian Rührschneck, Sales Director, V. Fraas cited “new listings at airports (FRA) and also inflight (Eurowings)” as key factors contributing to its year-end goals while Nestlé ITR GM Stewart Dryburgh praised “sustainability initiatives”.

The Q1 2024 TRBusiness TR Confidence Tracker will go live in April – stay close to TRBusiness.com for updates. TRBusiness February 2024 ezine

This feature first appeared in the February 2024 issue of TRBusiness magazine. 

READ MORE: POLL: Are industry confidence levels dwindling?

READ MORE: Beam Suntory adds weight to TR Confidence Tracker

READ MORE: Industry confidence levels shrink over 25% in Q3

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