Market Overview

Duty-Free and Travel Retail, A Thriving Business Worth Over 60 Billion

Erik Juul-Mortensen, President of TFWA, in his annual summary of the duty-free industry at the TFWA Opening Conference in Cannes in October 2014, reviewed how far the industry has grown in the past 30 years.

In 1985, global duty-free and travel retail sales were 6 billion USD—just 10% of the USD 60 billion today—with 56.1% in Europe, with wines and spirits accounting for over a third of global sales; perfume and cosmetics lagging behind. “Luxury wasn’t even a catalog,” he said.

Today, global duty-free and travel retail sales have grown to reach a “staggering” 60 billion USD in 2013, fueled by a customer base of billions more departing and arriving passengers. The biggest spenders in 2013 were the Chinese, he said, who along spent 129 billion dollars traveling abroad—about 11% of all who spend on international tourism.

Today, the airports’ share of total duty-free and travel retail sales has soared from 37.4% to 57.8%; Europe’s share has fallen from 56.1% to 33.6%, largely to the benefit of the Asian Pacific Region; luxury goods dominate, and liquor’s share of sales is about half what it was in 1985.