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The countdown to the London Summer Olympics of 2012 continues and the city is accelerating its preparations for the big event.
With millions of visitors expected to pour into the capital I hope that WDF is planning a radical overhaul of its arrivals shops at London Heathrow Airport.
I’ve always considered these among the drabbest in the business (unusual for such a good retailer) and during my first trip in a long time through Terminal 1 last week I noticed things had not changed for the better.
The store was about as welcoming as the long immigration queue I had just escaped and, alas, most customers seemed equally determined to get out of the shop, aided by a large overhanging ‘exit’ sign which probably ranked as the most persuasive merchandising in sight.
Yes there are some price offers, a reasonable selection of core categories but there is no excitement whatsoever. No ‘welcome to Britain’ feeling (apart from, bizarrely, being sold tickets for the Heathrow Express in the middle of the store by tout-like train staff). No particular focus on British goods. In short no real reason to stop and buy and I noticed that very few passengers off my flight (from Switzerland) did.
I know it’s not technically duty free shopping in Europe but it’s a retail opportunity nonetheless. I wonder how much research has gone into tailoring a specific Arrivals offer as opposed to what amounts to little more than a case of ‘duty free-lite’?
I wonder, too, what, say, retail guru Mary ‘Queen of Shops’ Portas (a consultant and TV commentator) who regularly and brilliantly dissects UK High Street retailing) would make of the current offer. Not much is my guess. Here’s to an Olympian effort to improve things soon.