Dubai Duty Free tops 2021 sales target with $976m

By Luke Barras-hill |

The world’s largest single airport retail operation sold more than 26 million units of merchandise in 2021.

Dubai Duty Free (DDF) has announced sales of Dhs 3.563 billion/US$976 million in 2021 – a 40% increase compared with 2020.

The result outperforms the $960m estimated in recent weeks and represents a marked uplift on the $697m posted in 2020, a year in which the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a 65% drop in company revenue (from a little over $2 billion in 2019).

Unsurprisingly, perfumes (19.6%) and liquor (17%) accounted for the lion’s share of 2021 total revenue at Dhs 698m/$191m and Dhs 617m/$169m, respectively.

Cigarettes & tobacco placed third (10%) in terms of share of total sales at Dhs 348m/$95m, with gold (8%) in fourth at Dhs 290m/$79.5m and electronics in fifth (7.8%) at Dhs 278m/$76m.

Departures sales (84%) reached Dhs 2.9bn/$818m, while arrivals sales (10%) reached Dhs 373m/$102m.

Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman & CEO: “Overall, it has been a very good year for the operation despite the challenges of the pandemic.”


More than nine million sales transactions were recorded throughout 2021 – averaging 25,000 sales transactions per day – while over 26 million units of merchandise were sold.

Online sales accounted for 5% of the overall sales tally for 2021 and reached Dhs 177m/$48m.

Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman & CEO of Dubai Duty Free, said: “Overall, it has been a very good year for the operation despite the challenges of the pandemic and I would like to thank our Chairman, H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, for his ongoing support and commitment.

“I also join his Highness in thanking our great team of staff, our suppliers and of course our customers, for their contribution to our ongoing growth and success.”

As reported, DDF recalled 900 employees dovetailing with the much-anticipated re-opening of DXB Concourse A in November and the airport returned to 100% operating capacity one month later.

During 2021, DDF completed a number of retail projects, including the opening of a Christian Dior boutique in Concourse A and B and a Louis Vuitton shop in Concourse B.

Its traditional three-day shopping bonanza in December (18-20), which offered discounts across a range of merchandise, netted sales of Dhs87m/$23.9m – up 24.5% on the same period in 2020.


“We are now looking forward to the opening of a Cartier boutique in Concourse B and the re-opening of the Chanel boutique in Concourse A in the first quarter of this year,” added McLoughlin.

DDF says it plans to maintain its busy events and promotional calendar that includes the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (14-26 February) at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.

Perfumes & cosmetics led the pack with a 19.6% share of total revenue in 2021.

DDF hosted the returning MEADFA Conference at the Jumeirah Creekside hotel in Dubai in November and spoke openly about the challenges facing the business.

In a recent interview with TRBusiness, Dubai Duty Free Chief Operating Officer Ramesh Cidambi revealed a 2022 sales forecast of Dhs 5.1bn/$1.4 billion.

To read that interview available in the November special edition of the TRBusiness e-zine, click here.


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