Pessimism impacting confidence levels in Q2, shows TR Confidence Tracker

By Faye Bartle |

Confidence Tracker Q2 2023

A small but significant 7% of duty free and travel retail stakeholders who responded to the TRBusiness Q2 2023 TR Confidence Tracker flash poll are feeling “very pessimistic” about the global travel retail (GTR) industry and their organisation’s performance in the channel for the year ahead.

It’s the first time that respondents have expressed pessimism in the survey, which is conducted every quarter to monitor industry sentiment.

As can be seen from the comparison charts for the three flash polls that have been carried out so far this year, the “very pessimistic” feeling in Q2 is a notable change on the past two sets of results.

However, we can also see that optimism levels have increased slightly, with an impressive 93% of respondents either “very optimistic” or “quite optimistic” about the GTR industry over the next 12 months, compared to 91% in Q1 2023 and 85% for Feb 2023 when the flash poll was launched.

Furthermore, 89% of respondents are “very optimistic” or “quite optimistic” about their organisation’s performance in GTR over the next year, compared to 91% in Q1 2023 and 89% in February of this year.

Confidence Tracker Q2 2023

Those holding a neutral view of being “neither optimistic or pessimistic” has diminished, compared to the previous poll sample.

The responses were delivered against a backdrop of continued recovery in Q2.

In June, Airports Council International (ACI) World’s quarterly airport traffic outlook showed sustained strong air travel demand into summer, with airports forecast to welcome 2.9 billion in Q3 2023, and the Asia-Pacific region expected rebound to 85.3% of 2019 levels by the end of the year.

“Increasing passenger volumes, rising consumer confidence in most OECD countries, combined with declining jet fuel prices, suggests air travel demand will remain strong into the northern hemisphere summer season,” said ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira upon the publication of the organisation’s report. “The opening of Chinese aviation markets represents especially positive progress to global activity and air travel demand.

“But we must be vigilant,” he warned. “GDP growth forecasts have moderated and energy and food prices, although decreased from their peak levels, remain higher than pre-pandemic levels. Inflation will also be an issue in the near term, straining the financial viability of airports as they face increased operational costs.”

Confidence Tracker Q2 2023

Despite continued challenges, the majority of respondents were upbeat, with many commenting on the factors providing the biggest boost to business during Q2.

TFWA President Erik Juul-Mortensen referenced the “continued increase in international travel after the pandemic” for providing a welcome stimulus.

This was echoed and elaborated on by Eishwar Turshani, Sr. Business Analyst, Oman Sales & Services, who spoke of a “significant increase in traffic, improvement in stock availability, promotions, improvement in retail standards.”

Specifically, the “gradual increase in Chinese customers,” was highlighted by Abdulla Shihan, Senior Buyer and Merchandiser, Maldives Airports Company Limited (Maldives Duty Free).

Similarly, on the back of “high single figure organic growth” during the quarter, Patrick Dorais, Director of Sales, Al Nassma Chocolate cited the return of the PRC Chinese traveller” as a key influence.

Confidence Tracker Q2 2023

On developments helping to propel stakeholders towards their year-end goals, Stephen Martin, Retail Director – Stansted, part of MAG, referenced: “Consistently better operations and improved staff capability post Covid that give customers confidence when travelling through the airport whilst delivering new initiatives and content to continually improve our overall offer.”

“We love innovation and exciting to see retailers starting to look outside the box,” commented Garry Maxwell, Director, GMAX Travel Retail. “It is a very busy time in the TR calendar and we have attended virtually all of the key events with fantastic feedback on our brands and we have obtained a number of new client listings, so exciting times ahead.”

“We expect our annual revenue to exceed pre pandemic levels for the first time,” shared Hoj Parmar, CEO, Bitmore. “The introduction and launch of our unique certified travel pillows made from recycled bottles which are collected within a 50km radius of coastlines to prevent plastic waste ending up in our oceans.”

“[We have a] strong innovation pipeline for HY2 2023 & 2024, [with a] strong activity and promotional plan” added Peter Juerg Zehnder, Head Global Travel Retail, Lindt & Sprüngli (Schweiz) AG.

Confidence Tracker Q2 2023

Ricola is experiencing “healthy increases of business from all key customers in different regions,” according to Andreas Reckart, Head of Travel Retail, Ricola.

Finally, Liz McShane, Associate – BD & Marketing at Portland revealed: “We are getting a lot more enquiries from airports about undertaking new projects. We are working on a couple of large, high profile airport projects and expect to win 2-3 more in next 3-6 months.”

In terms of fuelling business, she mentioned how “speaking at key industry conferences and engaging with fellow TR professionals” play an important role.

READ MORE: Register your interest for the upcoming TR Consumer Forum in June 2024

How was your Q3?

The Q2 2023 TR Confidence Tracker is now live. We encourage DF&TR stakeholders around the world to complete the five-minute survey and help us track confidence levels in the industry.

You can choose to take part anonymously or ‘on the record’, allowing us to feature a selection of your attributed comments in the report. Simply let us know your preference by ticking the appropriate box.

The results, along with a selection of the attributed comments submitted, will be published at TRBusiness.com, on our social media channels and in the e-zine/magazine (when dates align). Thank you in advance for your valuable contribution.

TR Confidence Tracker

Join our super panel

TRBusiness would like to take this opportunity to all those who have participated in the Travel Retail (TR) Confidence Tracker so far.

We’d also like to invite you to join our ‘super’ panel of respondents and be the first to know when a flash poll goes live, and to seize the opportunity to share your comments for coverage on TRBusiness.com and in the e-zine.

Interested? Simply email [email protected] with ‘TR Confidence Tracker’ in the subject line and we’ll do the rest! Thank you.

READ MORE: 91% of respondents optimistic about the GTR industry, says flash poll

READ MORE: 89% of respondents ‘optimistic’ about their TR business, shows flash poll

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