South Korea’s Incheon International Airport ranked world’s No.1 in airport travel retail sales for full 2017, claiming the crown for the second year in a row despite a plunge in the number of Chinese visitors amid a diplomatic row over installment of a U.S. antimissile system in Korea.
Incheon International Airport Corp. said Sunday that its duty-free shop sales for full 2017 grew 4.1 percent from a year earlier and hit a fresh record high of $2.1 billion. It ranked top among global airport retailers for the second consecutive year after beating its longtime rival Dubai Duty Free.
Perfumes and cosmetics were the biggest sellers with annual sales of $774 million, making up 38 percent of the airport retailer’s total sales. Liquors and tobaccos came second with sales of $459 million followed by leather goods with $301 million. They contributed 22 percent and 15 percent of total sales, respectively.
The airport retailer’s stellar performance came despite Beijing’s ban on group tours to Korea in protest to Seoul’s installation of an U.S. missile defense system. Before the travel ban, spending by Chinese visitors used to make up nearly 30 percent of total sales, but various promotional events, attractive portfolio of brands and items, as well as a sharp increase in outbound travelers have more than offset the drop in the number of Chinese visitors, said an Incheon International Airport official.
The number of South Korean outbound travelers topped 24 million during January-November last year, jumping 18.2 percent from the same period a year ago. It was the first time for the figure to exceed a 24 million mark on a yearly basis.
Currently, seven duty-free shop operators run outlets in the Incheon International Airport and six of them including Lotte Duty Free and Shilla Duty Free saw their sales increase from a year earlier.
The country’s main gateway Incheon International Airport is scheduled to open a new passenger Terminal 2 on Jan. 18, ahead of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games that kicks off next month. The new terminal will also come with duty-free shops with total shop area of 9,597 square meters.
By Ji Hong-goo and Cho Jeehyun
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]