A new report from YouGov, ‘Airports: Retail Opportunities’, shines a light on the consumer behaviour of UK air travellers, and the opportunities for catering and retail businesses in UK airports
The process of travelling by plane demands that people spend significant amounts of time waiting around in airports. Here they can be seen as ‘sitting ducks’ for a wide range of catering and retailing services.
The report found that the majority (58%) of flyers prefer to arrive at the airport before the arrival time stated on their tickets. Most people want to play it safe, allowing extra time to get to the airport or to get through security and over a quarter (26%) of passengers arrived three or more hours before their flight. A fifth (20%) like to arrive early to airports in order to eat, 15% come early because they like to go shopping.
Passenger retail / food and drink habits
The market intelligence report found that food outlets are substantially more likely to be used by UK air travellers than are retail outlets. Of the passengers we surveyed, 80% bought food and/or drink at the airport before their last flight, while 27% went shopping.
Out of the 80% who bought food and/or drink at the airport, 42% purchased a sandwich/roll and 43% bought a coffee. Coffee shops are the first choice of a third (33%) of those who buy food and drink, and are the most popular type of food/drink outlet at UK airports. Of those whose flight was in the morning, 27% had a hot breakfast at the airport.
When it comes to shopping, nearly half of women (47%) say they enjoy spending time at the airport looking around the shops, while just over a quarter (27%) of men say this. Out of the 27% flyers who shopped at the airport before their most recent flight, 61% bought toiletries, 57% reading materials and 26% consumables. Only 7% bought clothes and 5% electronic items.
Quality and value
Far more people are happy with the quality of the food than are unhappy. However, there is a strong level of discontentment with the value for money aspect. The report also found that satisfaction with the quality of food declines as the size of airport decreases. High prices put some off buying food and drink.
A majority (59%) of those who bought food and/or drink before their last flight gave a positive score to the quality of airport food, but just 35% of these flyers gave it a positive score for value for money. Meanwhile, 37% of those who did not purchase any food and/or drink before their last flight said they might be enticed to do so if prices were lower.