Time to shine

scattergoodBy Gary Scattergood
Editor, Duty-Free News International

Make no mistake about it, the U.S. and the wider Americas region is proving to be a land of opportunity for travel-retailers and suppliers.

While the industry in the region has traditionally lagged behind Europe and Asia, the world-class retail offers now on display at Los Angeles International, New York JFK, San Francisco Intentional, and Miami airports suggest the tide is turning.

Although the gateway airports have made great strides in improving the customer experiences, there is clearly more to be done elsewhere.

But all the signs suggest that this will happen, as airports large and small continue to invest in infrastructure projects that will provide commercial opportunities.

scattergood_quote2In the U.S., San Francisco International Airport has recently been accepting proposals for three speciality leases in terminal three.

Meanwhile at Washington Dulles International Airport and at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, the third and final wave of a retail transformation is underway in a project that had already seen nearly 60 new stores and restaurants already opened or under construction.

Over in Tampa, the Hillsborough
County Aviation Authority is currently assessing bids for the duty-free concessions at Tampa International Airport, which are part of a wider $935 million redevelopment program.

Phoenix Sky Harbour International airport also is midway through a process to upgrade its retail offer, with two duty-free/duty-paid stores in the 18 leases up for grabs, while Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport officially issued its request for proposals for 34 concession locations last December — including duty-free, retail, and food and beverage opportunities.

It’s the same in South America and the Caribbean, too. Panama Tocumen International airport will launch a tender for its new south terminal later this year, as will the airport authority in St. Vincent ahead of the opening of its $250 million international airport.

It is not surprising then that this level of activity is increasingly attracting more attention from growing numbers of global retailers.

Alongside national retail outfits Duty Free Americas and International Shoppes, both Dufry and DFS are well established in the U.S., as is the World Duty Free Group (WDFG).

However, that has not stopped WDFG from viewing the U.S. as a key growth market both in terms of its existing operations and for new opportunities.

For its part, Gebr Heinemann is actively exploring possibilities in the country, having opened a U.S. headquarters in Miami last year, while Aer Rianta International is also believed to be examining opportunities in the U.S. in recent months.

The company already has a strong presence in Canada (where airport duty-free sales are booming) at Montreal, Ottawa, Halifax, and Winnipeg airports, alongside a Caribbean operation at Barbados Grantley Adams International Airport.

The fact that more international retailers are keen to explore opportunities in the region can only be good news for airports and passengers.

For travel-retail, it appears that the Americas’ time in the spotlight has well and truly arrived.