Optimism getting back on track in Q1 yet faith in business performance stalls

By Faye Bartle |

TR Confidence Tracker Q1 2024

Global travel retail optimism levels grew in Q1 2024, with almost 86% of respondents to the TR Confidence Tracker feeling optimistic about the industry, yet faith in business performance stalls quarter-over-quarter (QoQ).

The results of the Q1 2024 TR Confidence Tracker, sponsored by Suntory Global Spirits, show that optimism levels are beginning to bounce back after slipping 17 percentage points over the course of 2023.

A total of 85.71% of respondents to TRBusiness’ first quarterly flash poll of 2024 say they are very or quite optimistic about the global travel retail (GTR) industry over the next 12 months.

This demonstrates a marked uplift on the 68% of respondents who felt the same way in Q4 2023.

TR Confidence Tracker Q1 2024

However, it’s still below the peak optimism levels of 93% reported in Q2 2023 and 91% in Q1 2023.

The share of those with a neutral viewpoint shrunk QoQ (from 24% to 9.52%).

The share of respondents feeing quite pessimistic dipped by 3.24 percentage points and zero respondents expressed very pessimistic views, painting an overall more positive picture.

TR Confidence Tracker Q1 2024

“The data, the numbers, and the bookings in travel retail suggest this could be the strongest year since the pandemic,” said Hoj Parmar, CEO, Bitmore. “But we have to be mindful of the impact geopolitical matters can have on our industry. I’m optimistic on the whole, but with some sprinklings of caution.”

Rohit Bachani, Chief Magical Officer of Merlin Digital pointed to new business opportunities fuelling positive sentiment. “New concessionaires in electronics [are] coming up. Passenger numbers are up. I’m optimistic,” he said.

More contributors going on-the-record for the flash poll [Ed – respondents can also take part anonymously, if they wish] included Peter Zehnder, Head Global Travel Retail at Lindt & Sprüngli AG, who flagged the “further recovery plus ongoing demand for travel” as reasons to be hopeful.

TR Confidence Tracker Q1 2024

As Steven Candries, Commercial & Travel Retail Director, Chocdecor/Belfine commented: “We see now already [the] need for travel in a private capacity and business-wise there is an urge for face-to-face meetings to get projects moving forward. So, travel and the unforced related shopping is back on track.”

Despite the uptick in confidence in the GTR industry overall, respondents’ faith in their business performance in the channel in 2024 remains subdued compared to the first three quarters of 2023.

TR Confidence Tracker Q1 2024

A total of 71.43% of respondents expressed optimism compared to a peak of 91% in Q1 2023.

Sentiment started shrinking from Q2 2023, reaching 72% in the final quarter of the year and these latest results show there has been no major change.

In fact, the share of respondents feeling quite pessimistic has increased to its largest share in the TR Confidence Tracker’s history, at 14.3%, compared to just 2% in early 2023 and being non-existent in Q1 2023.

The majority of respondents relaying feelings of pessimism did so anonymously.

What has provided the biggest boost for your company in DF&TR during Q1 2024?

To our question of the quarter, respondents shared…

“Implementing new marketing activities on Douglas Laing and the launch of Strathearn Whisky and the DL diamond collection.” Hannes Koch, Owner & MD, Travel Retail Cooperation

“Various new listings with existing customers, plus new customers that were taken on board.” Andreas Reckart, Head of Travel Retail, Ricola

“Internal operational improvements and process streamlining.” Kreol Arakulath, Executive Director, Kreol Group

“Focusing on tight assortments, more exclusive product and aligning inventory levels to support increased sales has provided the biggest boost for us. We anticipate that continuing with these strategies will support our year-end goals for growth and expansion.” Robert Robertaccio, SVP, Global & Travel Retail Sales, E. Gluck Corp

“Across both divisions we have signed more new clients in Q1 2024 year-on-year in addition to an increase of predicted levels set in Q4 2023 and therefore remain extremely positive regarding 2024 goals.” Tim Jobber, Owner, JES Travel Retail Consultancy

The Q2 2024 TR Confidence Tracker will go live in July – stay close to TRBusiness.com for updates.

This feature first appeared in the TRBusiness May 2024 issue, as part of the annual Leading APAC Operators report. Click here to read the ezine.

READ MORE: TR Confidence Tracker Q1 2024 flash poll now live – take part today!

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

READ MORE: Beam Suntory adds weight to TR Confidence Tracker

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