Is this the most productive airport retail space in the world by sales per square metre? Apart from one of the small but always crammed Korean ginseng boutiques at Incheon International Airport I can think of few that would even come close to it.
The store in question is Akihabara, a name symbolic of one of the largest sub-cultures in Japan. Akihabara is run by Tokyo Narita retailer Fa-So-La (the brand under which NAA Retailing trades – 100% owned by Narita Airport Corp). In fact, it’s one of two adjacent stores, the other (also popular) being dedicated mainly to consumer technology.<
I love the main Akihabara store’s offer, though I hate being in the store. As the photos reveal, it’s almost unbearably crowded, and the queue feels like it might last until next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
But… and this is a serious but…. the offer is a sublime example of destination merchandise. A lovely diverse array of food & and other products; often exquisite packaging; and numerous retailer exclusives.
The most prominent of those exclusives, as underlined by its front-of-store positioning is KitKat, the country’s most popular confectionery brand and a hugely popular gift choice, particularly for schoolchildren. Nestlé Japan has for years seized on that dynamic brilliantly, rolling out a continuing series of new, limited-edition, flavours, including for Narita Airport.
It’s almost a year since my last visit to Narita T2 and the emphasis on exclusives is unchanged. Only the flavours are different. What a brilliant gift. I bought three boxes for my (admittedly now quite old) youngest two children and their expressions of delight justified every Yen of the purchase. This is one of the best examples of the travel retail exclusive concept you could find. Take a break? Yes indeed. And take a bow.