LatAm hopes to build on 2022 as it grapples with dearth of intl frequencies

By Faye Bartle |

José Luis Donagaray, Secretary General, ASUTIL.

José Luis Donagaray, Secretary General, ASUTIL.

José Luis Donagaray, Secretary General, Asociación Sudamericana de Tiendas Libres (ASUTIL), describes 2022 as ‘a year of recovery’ for Latin America’s duty free and travel retail market, as the association prepares to host the first standalone ASUTIL Conference since 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina (7-8 June, 2023).

While acknowledging that traveller numbers are up across the region, Donagaray tells TRBusiness: “People want to travel and buy in duty free, but the problem we have in Latin America is a lack of international frequencies.

“In the domestic market, duty paid [sales] are doing very well but we continue with some lack of frequencies, and it’s also impacted by increasing ticket prices and inflation.

“We expect for next year to have a recovery of frequencies [at the same level] as 2019.”

The pandemic and a series of delays to shop openings have stunted growth for Brazil’s land border duty free market since customs granted the approval of licences across 32 Brazilian twin-cities in 2018. As such, Donagaray views 2023 as the first ‘normal year’ of operation since the law was passed.

Seven shops are in the process of opening with 22 currently operational, TRBusiness learns. With approval granted, it is reasonable to expect that those stores will open this year.

Dufry’s duty free shop in Uruguaiana

Dufry’s duty free shop in Uruguaiana, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, at the border with Argentina.

Dufry’s border stores duty free business is slowly returning (see our feature in the March/April e-zine, p31-34), driven in the main by the exchange rate in Brazil where it operates a land border shop in Uruguaiana, Rio Grande do Sul.

On the outlook for Dufry’s Brazilian airports and border shops business this year, Enrique Urioste, President and CEO Latin America at Dufry Group, notes: “This part of our business remains as one of the region’s challenges at the present time, mainly due to the exchange rates and how they impact on travelling costs, as well as purchasing capacity.”

Elsewhere, the ASUTIL Conference – managed by TFWA – is set to make its comeback in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 7-8 June.

“People can expect a very good environment for networking, doing business and a branch of speakers giving a lot of information for this first year of complete recovery,” adds Donagaray.

This article first appeared in the TRBusiness 2023 March/April issue. 

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