Asia Pacific’s airports get a retail revamp

 —  Article by Serene Lim

Airports are fast becoming the new malls in Asia Pacific as passenger terminals in the region amp up their retail offerings to woo travellers.

The global travel retail market will be worth $85 billion in 2020, according to the Fung Business Intelligence Centre with Asia Pacific accounting for 39 percent of it.

“Airport retail in the past used to be for the ‘elite traveler’, as air travel was still considered an upper-class activity in Asia,” says Steven McCord, JLL’s Head of Retail Research in Asia. “This has changed – airports are becoming the domain of the middle class consumer. This means they are looking for the same stores and experiences that they are used to in local malls.”

Here’s a look at some airport offerings in Asia Pacific, where travelers can – or will soon be able to get – an extra dose of retail therapy.

Sydney ups its game

Sydney International Airport’s Terminal 1 has been revamped and now sports 13 new premium brands such as Gucci (opening in the first few months of 2017), Tiffany & Co, Kate Spade and Hugo Boss. Its duty-free partner Heineman also opened its final phase last May, making it one of the biggest standalone airport duty-free stores in the world and featuring Aussie brands available for the first time in an Australian airport such as Alice McCall and Seafolly.

Tokyo boosts its offerings

At Tokyo’s Narita Airport, its '5th Avenue' shopping stretch saw four new boutiques open at the end of 2016, including Chanel and the first Prada airport outlet in the country in 2015.

Hong Kong looks to the future

Retail and entertainment options feature strongly in Hong Kong International Airport’s ambition to transform itself into an airport city. Plans are afoot to create SkyCity, a thriving 24-hour destination for both locals and visitors built at the north of the airport island.  The first phase of the project will see the construction of a unique retail, dining and entertainment (RDE) destination of 195,000sqm, which is scheduled to open in 2021.

Singapore caters for beauty product fans

Cosmetics and perfumes are the second most popular buys at airports after wines and spirits. Shilla Beauty Loft at Changi Airport Terminal 3 is the world's first airport duplex beauty store. The 1,250 sqm space took two years to develop, and boasts more than 190 beauty brands. To top it off, it houses four luxury brands—Dior, Chanel, SK-II and La Prairie—on its mezzanine level offering services for weary travellers ranging from flash makeovers to hour-long massage treatments.

Changi has also announced the completion of the new Terminal 4 scheduled to open later this year with special Perankan-themed shopfronts.

Seoul draws in luxury shoppers

There is a reason why South Korea’s Incheon Airport ranks top in terms of shopper spend. Seoul’s airport has the world's first Louis Vuitton airport boutique, which opened in 2011, along with a host of other luxury brands such as Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Omega and Prada. It further boosted its luxury cred this year by adding Fendi, Balenciaga, Moncler, MiuMiu, Celine and Marc Jacobs.

Bali offers food for thought

Many airports in Asia Pacific boast great restaurants and cafes – especially the major international hubs of Singapore’s Changi, Japan’s Narita and Hong Kong International.

But Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport scores for a wide variety across its compact size. Bali institution Made's Warung has an outpost here as well as Hard Rock Café. Other outlets such as Two Tigers Sushi and Noodles and House of Beans offer decent sushi, coffee and cakes while international chains Starbucks and Cold Stone Creamery offer caffeine and ice cream fixes respectively.

China’s airports add more space

Shanghai's Hongqiao Airport is planning a major retail expansion with a new international terminal opening in March 2017. Meanwhile, China's Haikou Meilan Airport Duty Free Shop is adding 18,000 sq metres of retail space early in 2017 as part of the new Haikou Aviation Tourism Duty Free Plaza, which also includes a cinema, a museum and restaurants.

DELHI, INDIA - DECEMBER 12: Duty Free Shops at Terminal 3 at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, India

Delhi embraces technology

Domestic travelers heading through Delhi’s International Airport can now pre-order a wide range of beauty, fashion and other goods through India’s first airport e-shopping platform.

Retail space in airports through the country is in high demand with big brands including Accessorize, Mont Blanc, Hugo Boss and Swarovski contending with rising rents and low vacancy rates for a slice of the country’s growing air passenger numbers.

DELHI, INDIA - DECEMBER 12: Duty Free Shops at Terminal 3 at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, India
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