Carena Stout works as a retail staff member at Christchurch’s Relay, a store selling books and convenience items. She says she usually starts work around 4am, and confirms the hours took some adjusting to.
“You do get used to the hours and most people are friendly from past 10 in the morning. I don’t find it is too different to normal retail, at the end of the day people come in, they make their purchase and leave.
“For Christchurch we only have the two stores, which is sort of our main retail centre. There isn’t a lot past that. People don’t spend a lot of time around and if they are they’re usually just trawling through magazines and books, waiting mostly for their flights.
Travellers seem “pretty consistent” in how they approach sales staff, says Stout.
“For the most part airport retail is pretty good, we have a great team on the ground who’s values match the company’s. We talk a fair bit with the airport commercial manager who likes to monitor sales. I guess if we’re performing well, so is the airport.”
Reaching new heights
According to the latest key tourism statistics from the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment, international visitor arrivals were a little over 3.7 million for the year ending February 2018. The Chinese market only makes up 12 percent of our tourist market, yet according to Barker, they spend twice as much in airport retail thanks to a culture which often requires people return home with gifts.
The economic contribution of these travelers is around $36 billion, with just under 10 percent of our entire population working in tourism. Tourism numbers are forecasted to continue to grow, with reports expecting a 4.8 percent growth in visitors for 2017-2023.
In direct relation to that, the MBIE reports that tourism expenditure by industry falls heavily in favour of retail sales, followed by food and beverage services.
Although Auckland Airport saw a revenue increase of 6.9 percent to $332.4 million across the 2017 financial year, and despite our thriving tourism industry, international retail airports far surpass our own, mostly due to size restrictions.
Dubai International Airport is now one of the world’s busiest international hubs processing 66 million passengers a year. Al Maktoum International Airport is being considered as Dubai’s airport of the future, projected over time to become a ‘superhub’ with an annual capacity of 160 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of freight.
Singapore’s Changi International Airport saw $1.6 billion in sales in 2016. By 2025, travelers from China are expected to spend a whopping $450 billion in international travel and retail. When compared to a typical retail high street or shopping mall, sales per square foot at airports are astronomical.
How does our busiest airport stack up against the rest?
Auckland International Airport: 19,800,000 million travelers passing through per year
Atlanta International Airport: 103,902,992 million per year
Beijing International Airport: 95,786,296 million per year
Dubai International Airport: 88,242009 million per year
Tokyo Haneda Airport: 84,956,964 million per year
LA International Airport: 84,557, 968 million per year
But how does airport retail fare in domestic-only terminals where the offering is less substantial? More importance is placed on food and beverage offerings, as domestic passengers have much shorter waiting periods, sometimes less than 20 minutes as technology advancements allow for off-site check-in.
Christchurch domestic airport is nearing the end of its renovations, which included a runway expansion, the addition of two new restaurants and a beauty salon. Yet despite a smaller retail scene, the airport itself still turned an annual net profit of $64.6 million in 2017.
Renovation plans include a landscaped plaza, an entry tunnel representing the flow of water from the Southern Alps, a second multi-level car park building, and a larger terminal.