The economy of airports
Here are the things most people would happily pay for at an international transit airport: – a shower – clean underwear (for those of us who habitually forget to pack it) – daylight – an exercise facility to help with the jetlag and minimise DVT – nutritious but not too heavy food – a nap, lying flat, somewhere quiet.
And here’s what is generally available: – Gucci – Chanel – l’Occitane – Bodyshop – Lacoste – Nike – a few plastic seats – McDonalds, dougnuts, and the local variety of fried, sugary dross to add a sugar hangover to your jetlag.
…in an airport, foot traffic is very high, and space is at a premium. So you should expect to see things that go at a very high volume (McDonalds) or things that are very expensive per-inch-of-display-space, such as Gucci. Showers and napping capsules do not meet either criteria.
Think of airports as temporary prisons for the wealthy, and the luxury good offerings as reflecting the extreme value of their attention. Airports will sell goods which are complements to that attention, which is otherwise so hard to get.
Compare the Brooks Brothers outlet at Reagan National Airport with the Brooks Brothers outlet at Tysons Corner Mall. I’ll predict the former devotes a greater percentage of floor space to eye-catching, easy-to-buy, easy to try on items, such as ties.
Another prediction is this: in countries (cities) where the wealthy people are not hurried (relative to shop hours), there should be fewer luxury goods in the airports. What are examples? Monaco? Nice? Spain? London would seem to be an example of extreme hurry.
And what does Air Genius Gary Leff say?
Addendum: The genius weighs in.