Airport shopping: time to cry wolf?

Aeroporti
11 Dec 2018
Airports, “passengers are requested to unfasten their seatbelts and keep electronic devices switched on.” 

According to a report by Reuters, Amazon is looking at bringing its Amazon Go stores to airports. Reuters reported that the Seattle retailer has been in touch with officials at several international airports in America (Dallas, Los Angeles, and San Jose).

Some financial analysts reckon that this news is why Autogrill share prices dipped (6.4%) yesterday in Italy. But do we really need to cry wolf? So soon?

Go, go, go

Amazon opened the first “Go” store in Seattle eleven months ago. Customers use an app to enter the store, while sensors and cameras track items in their baskets without the need for anyone to check them. No cash registers, and the items are automatically billed as they leave.

A further six stores have opened over the past three months or so, and various sources say that Amazon plans to open up to 3,000 by 2021. According to The Telegraph, Amazon intends to open its first overseas Go store in London’s West End.

The target

If you consider the high footfall in airports, they would certainly seem very appetising. More than 350 million passengers passed through the top twelve American airports last year. But airport retail is only a tiny share of the global market. Even though, in principal, people about to embark on or getting off long-haul flights may well be interested in the freshly prepared meals typically on sale in Go stores.

But the process of being awarded new spaces in airports is fraught with difficulties. Amazon would experience problems associated with the uncertainties of the competitive bid process and the inability to control the timings and overall expenses for the openings. And, of course, on top of that is the matter of security clearances.

Then again, traditional catering in airports is well-established with an extensive offering of brand and formats that would seem to meet travellers’ needs better than a convenience store.

Autogrill

Autogrill has been in the spotlight for several days now because the French food service and catering colossus Elior is considering selling its concessions portfolio. This would mean selling off its Areas business which has various international contracts with motorways and airports, including airports in Los Angeles and Madrid. This business is worth just under €1 billion and Autogrill, along with another Italian company (Cremonini), is tipped as one of the possible buyers.