Consumers Fly Nowhere To Shop Duty-Free Stores

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A new trend is emerging at airports in which customers fly to nowhere for no other reason than to access duty-free shopping, Bloomberg reported.

Duty-free shopping refers to the retail outlets whose goods have been exempt from the payment of some local taxes and duties. Usually, they’re reserved for people traveling internationally.

But now, according to Bloomberg, companies like Hotel Shilla, the second-biggest duty-free operator in South Korea, are offering more than 100 seats for customers who have spent over $550 at duty-free stores. By allowing more customers to access duty-free products, operators are trying to make up for the losses from the pandemic.

The business, formerly booming, has suffered because of the lack of travel last year, with a global amount of flights going from 4.5 billion to around 1.8 billion, Bloomberg reported. Shoppers can now access the option to fly a round-trip back to the airport at which they started in exchange for free duty-free shopping.

The industry is doing better in places where domestic air traffic is doing better and where tax-free shopping zones are in place, according to Bloomberg. The island of Hainan in China has seen boosts in popularity from the mainland, which is now starved for travel. The province’s duty-free sales went up to 27.5 billion yuan (about $4.3 billion) last year.

The Chinese government raised the limit on duty-free shopping in Hainan in July, intending to let people buy more. There is also some duty-free shopping extended to Beijing, Shanghai and other such cities to help capitalize on Chinese purchasing power, Bloomberg reported.

PYMNTS poses the hypothesis that summer 2021 could be a “summer of fun” in which people travel more. But while some areas of the world are ready to reopen, new COVID-19 surges and the recuperation from last year’s massive losses will make recovery uneven in the sector.

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