ASUTIL releases EBS Montevideo 2022 dates; shares border store strategy

By Faye Bartle |

José Luis Donagaray, General Secretary of the South American Association of Free Stores (ASUTIL).

José Luis Donagaray, General Secretary of the South American Association of Free Stores (ASUTIL).

Four new land border store openings are expected in Brazil this year, with a period of growth likely in 2023, according to José Luis Donagaray, General Secretary of the South American Association of Free Stores (ASUTIL), who delivered an update on the duty free industry in the region via a webinar to members of the press last week and revealed the dates, venue and format for EBS Montevideo 2022.

Due to the relatively healthy spend afforded to Brazilian travellers (the duty free allowance for travellers entering Brazil via a land border rose from US$300 to US$500 in January 2020 – this was in addition to lifting the allowance for travellers entering by air from US$500 to US$1,000) – Donagaray said the strategy for new store openings along the land borders is to place them in the biggest cities where there is a high concentration of Brazilian travellers.

He gave the example of there being 12 million potential travellers along the 500km stretch of border from Rivera in Uruguay to the north of the country.

“I hope this year we will have four new openings, including from Duty Free Americas (DFA), but I think the biggest growth will come next year, as there is a lot of paper and bureaucracy to present,” he explained.

“With the increase of the allowance, the product mix is reflected accordingly,” he continued. “With a $500 allowance for Brazilians at the border we have the opportunity to sell 40-inch televisions and other electronics as the average ticket is now higher.”

ASUTIL webinar July 2022.

The news comes on the back of continued traffic passenger recovery experienced in the region.

“We suffered a lot but the business is recovering,” said Donagaray.ASUTIL webinar July 2022.

He provided snapshots of monthly and year-on-year passenger traffic growth, featuring statistics from IATA and ACI.

While pax is on an upward curve, total passenger traffic is “still at 75% below 2019 levels”, he said.

Donagaray drilled down on results for three main destinations: Brazil, Mexico and Miami.ASUTIL webinar July 2022.

He noted that Mexico is at -3% of passengers in February 2022 compared to the same month in 2019.

Passengers passing through Miami are in January 2022 were -5% compared to January 2019.

“What we are missing in Latin America is frequencies,” he commented. ‘People want to fly and they want to move but we are suffering lack of [flight] frequencies in this region.”

He spoke of the continued investment in Brazil and Chile, including the new shops at Santiago de Chile International Airport’s new international Terminal, which opened in February.

“We continue working with our members on issues, such as the initiative to buy and deliver to your home while in transit in Brazil.

“We are trying to increase the duty free allowance for air travellers in Uruguay – US$650 is the allowance currently and we want to harmonise with Brazil at US$1,000. We have also been working with Argentina to increase the allowances, so there is a lot of work to be done for the future for the good health of the business.”

Hyatt Centric Montevideo

EBS Montevideo 2022 is taking place from 8-10 November at the Hyatt Centric Montevideo. Photo: Hyatt

As part of the webinar, Donagaray revealed that Encuentro Border Shops (EBS) regional border stores conference is taking place from 8-10 November 2022 at the Hyatt Centric Montevideo.

“We will be celebrating the 35th anniversary of implementing duty free shops at the border in Uruguay,’” he said. “That’s 35 years of a system that works that has been very important for the region.”

The format will be an opening cocktail on the first day, followed by the conference, networking and gala dinner on day 2 and further conference sessions and a brunch before departure on day 3.

“We will be offering people maximum information about what is happening now at the borders,” he said.

Donagaray also revealed that the ASUTIL annual conference will take place in either the first or second week of June 2023, with the location to be confirmed.

In the meantime, the association will continue with webinars to share updates on developments and industry events, with the next update expected in approximately one month.

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