With the excitement of Summer 2013 beginning to build, the nation is starting to look forward to the long awaited holidays. And for many, it looks like the holiday begins in the airport lounge. Indeed, according to latest research from Mintel on airport retailing in Europe, gone are the days of terminal boredom.

New research from Mintel finds, for many, airport shopping marks the start of their holidays. Today, over one in ten (13%) European travellers look forward to shopping at airport shops, a figure which rises to almost one in five (18%) Brits and compares to 16% of Germans, 13% of French and Spanish respectively, and 7% of Italians.

What is more, it seems like travellers simply can’t resist that last minute purchase, as many as 34% of European fliers admit they have bought items in airport shops which they hadn’t planned to buy. And it seems like the Spanish are the most impulsive buyers, 65% of them doing so, compared to 58% of French and Germans, 57% of Brits, and 53% of Italians.

And while for the majority (58%) shopping at airports remains a way to kill time before boarding a flight, airport stores could be much more than just that. Mintel’s research shows that pre-booked collection and delivery services remain an untapped opportunity. Indeed, 19% of European travellers would be interested in buying an item and picking it up on their return journey while 13% would be interested in ordering an item at the airport and having it delivered to their destination.

Richard Perks, Director of Retail Research at Mintel, said:

“People browse the shops because they have time to kill and, of course, that is good news for the retailers because it is likely to stimulate sales. But there could be more to it than that. Airports should look to provide more pleasurable, potentially enriching activities. Lack of time is an issue, of course, and from the point of view of the airport operator, any space has to earn its way. But there should be scope for many more services.”

“The challenge is to make the most of captive customers. In fact they could even make themselves more attractive and encourage passengers to arrive early rather than leaving it till the last minute if they provide more reasons to stay. The last year has seen a number of innovations geared towards doing just that. We have also seen the development of virtual mobile shopping walls and airport shopping apps. There should also be scope for beauty salons and day spas. If customers could book them in advance then they could seem even more attractive.” Richard concludes.

The report also suggests that the perception that duty free shopping is cheaper than high street prices could offer further opportunities for airport retailers. Some 13% of European flyers think that prices at airports are much cheaper than other shopping centres, with the French (21%) the most likely to believe airport shops really are cheaper – while other nationalities are a bit more sceptical – indeed, only 8% of Germans, 12% of Brits, 13% of Italians and 13% of Spanish believe this.

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