x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Duty-free retail sales off to flying start at capital's hub

ADAC hopes for another record as passenger traffic grows.

Duty-free sales at Abu Dhabi International Airport rose more than 25 per cent in the first quarter of the year, marking the start of what the operator hopes will be another record year for travel shopping. The increase in travel retail sales of 26.1 per cent in the first quarter, compared with the same period last year, outpaced the rise of 13.8 per growth in passenger numbers during the same period.

Luxury goods, perfume and cosmetics, liquor, gold and electronics were among the best performing products as all categories achieved double-digit growth. Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) is forecasting sales of tax-exempt goods in excess of US$160 million (Dh587.6m) this year as consumer confidence returns after the global financial crisis. "We are encouraged by the first-quarter results and to be 12.3 per cent ahead of passenger growth in turnover reinforces our strategy to continue to drive penetration, conversion and spend with our retail partners," said Huraiz Almur bin Huraiz, the chief commercial officer for ADAC.

Sales have been helped by the opening of Terminal 3 last year, which added 2,600 square metres of retail space. ADAC attributed its rise in first-quarter passenger traffic to an increase in travellers using the airport as a stopover between Bangkok and London. A number of airlines have also begun serving the UAE capital in the last year in response to a marketing campaign by ADAC. Abu Dhabi's travel retail sales rise provides a further boost to the UAE's duty-free sector after figures released last week showed Dubai Duty Free retained its title as the world's biggest retailer of tax-exempt goods last year, according to the industry research company Generation Research. Sales at Dubai Duty Free last year came to $1.14 billion.

Sales at Abu Dhabi International Airport climbed 12.7 per cent last year from 2008. The region proved resilient to the downturn for the duty free industry last year. Globally, travel retail sales fell 6.8 per cent to $34.5bn. @Email:tarnold@thenational.ae