Top 10 airports up 10.6% to $10.4bn

By Doug Newhouse |

The world’s Top 10 airports generated global DF&TR sales of $10.4bn last year, a 10.6% rise on 2012’s $9.4bn total.


The Top 10 also handled 553.7m passengers in 2013, an increase of 10.1% or 50.8m more passengers over the 502.9m generated in 2012.


The leading airports by retail sales in 2013 were Dubai and Incheon who both reported $1.8bn in sales, followed by Heathrow Airport with $1.5bn; Changi Airport $900m; Paris CDG $856m; Frankfurt $844m; Hong Kong $794m; Schiphol $740m; Bangkok $700m; and Sao Paulo $400m-plus.


Incheon Airport once again turned in a remarkable spend per passenger performance to reach $1.8bn with sales per outbound passenger quoted at $89 in 2013.


According to interviews with senior airport and retail management, Chinese passengers were also responsible for virtually all spending growth at Incheon within the 40.8m passenger total last year.



By contrast, – or more precisely in measuring these sales levels – Dubai Duty Free handled 25.6m more passengers than Incheon, but had to work harder for more customers from its 66.4m total.


No other airports except Incheon (+11%) got anywhere close to Dubai’s double-digit passenger growth rate of 15.2% and Dubai looks odds on favourite to pass Heathrow as the biggest international airport in the world by sheer passenger numbers.


Dubai is also the hot favourite to overtake Incheon’s DF&TR sales turnover by a clear margin this year, unless there is a miraculous recovery in the yen sending Japanese visitors back to Seoul’s shops in their millions [not likely-Ed]


Within this year’s numbers we should also point out that we were unable to obtain numbers from Dubai Airports for its other retail services, including those provided by Emirates-Group owned Les Clos, which certainly have boosted the airport’s total.



Similarly, none of the fast growing $300m in internet preorder sales made by both Lotte Duty Free and Shilla Duty Free has been counted in these numbers since they are not technically airport sales.


More generally, it should be noted that not all airports have anywhere near the growth rates in sales or passengers of the two leaders and some struggled last year.


These included Schiphol and Frankfurt and Bangkok – where political tensions scared away some key visitors. Sao Paulo also saw a cooling off in spending by those usually so reliable Brazilian spenders.


While our ranking tries to be as accurate as possible, there is, of course, no such thing as a precise science when directly comparing airport retail operations in terms of who sold what; how much; at what exchange rate;  and what merchandise was included or not as ‘retail’; and what allowances or tax/excise rates applied (or not, as the case may be, etc. etc).


The special Top 10 Airports Report was published this week in a special contained section of the TRBusiness July 2014 edition.

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