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High-End Retailers Struggling Today, Waiting For Tomorrow’s Recovery

The Wall Street Journal in 2005 published a story illustrating the movement toward adding high-end retail in U.S. airports. The paper profiled a number of locations that were following the lead of their European counterparts by dipping their collective toes in the waters of luxury jewelry and high-end clothing.

Included in that story was John F. Kennedy International (JFK) Terminal 4, where the U.S.-Dutch consortium JFK International Air Terminal LLC had a year-old luxury mall with brands such as DKNY, Guess and Timberland, as well as a luxury boutique called Runway Exclusive with Hermes, Ferragamo and Zegna.

Various media reports over the next couple of years hailed the terminal’s successful retail and food programs, highlighting the more than 100,000 sq. ft. of public access space at T4 and celebrating double-digit sales increases enjoyed in 2006.

More than 80% of Terminal 4’s traffic is international, with passengers coming from Europe and the Middle East, and they’ve helped make T4 highly successful over the years, says Janice Holden, chief commercial officer for JFK IAT.

Because changes are coming soon to the program, Holden declines to discuss specifics behind the future of upscale retail at T4. But she indicates that Hermes, Ferragamo and Tumi are three popular brands in T4 and they are expected to remain so.

“This is a key market for high-end retail and our passengers have responded well to all our offerings, both duty free and non-duty free,” Holden says. “Luxury duty free watches have been one category that has been exceptionally successful.”

Read the entire story in the August issue of Airport Revenue News.
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