Beauty and arrivals duty free boom in Beijing

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

The Moodie Davitt Interim Artyzen Habitat Dongzhimen Hotel Bureau is open for business.

I’m back in Beijing, a couple of months since my last visit, this time for two packed days of meetings before heading straight back to London. Its 32℃, with a gorgeous clear blue sky, something you don’t always find here and I’m going to try to find a few hours at least to explore this magnificent city.

I will, of course, have to stay glued to my screen tonight, however, as New Zealand is playing England in the Cricket World Cup final today at Lord’s in London and I just have a sneaky feeling that we might upset the odds*. If we do, my English work colleagues will hear my whoops all the way back at Moodie Davitt HQ. The trouble is though, if England win (as they are overwhelmingly favoured to do), I will hear theirs in Beijing.

The wonders of inflight wifi mean that most long-haul British Airways flights these days mean the opening of an Interim Moodie Davitt Bureau in the sky

Arriving at Beijing Capital International Airport is always an enthralling experience, the scale and majesty of Terminal 3 never failing to amaze. But today it wasn’t the architecture that caught my eye so much as two other factors: (1) the heavy business being done at the Sunrise Duty Free arrivals store and arrivals pick-up counters respectively; and (2) the amount of airport advertising space taken up by beauty brands.

Although Beijing Capital and Shanghai’s two airports have had arrivals duty free for a considerable time, overall the concept of arrivals shopping is in its nascency in China. In 2016 the government authorised bids for licences at 19 nominated inbound locations (mostly airports, some seaports) in a signalling of its determination to repatriate overseas duty free shopping.

(Above and below) Note all the yellow Sunrise Duty Free shopping bags

As my pictures reveal, the Beijing T3 store is a sizable (around 1,500sq m, the largest in the combined China Duty Free Group/Sunrise Duty Free estate), well-ranged operation. And plenty of people are taking advantage of it. Around 30% of arrivals business now is generated by the pick-up (pre-order) service and the evidence before my eyes suggests that a growing number of Chinese shoppers are taking advantage of their generous inbound allowance to shop on arrival.

As the concept becomes more ingrained with Chinese travellers, watch it grow. Something you can say about every aspect of the all-important Chinese aviation, tourism and travel retail sectors.

*Postscript: Which we so, so, so, nearly did. A loss? After two ‘ties’? Hardly. Dignified in ‘defeat’? Definitely. In deep, deep pain, given the extraordinary circumstances? Absolutely.

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