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Perfumes Increase Their Dominance at Dubai Duty Free as Sales Hit $976 Million

January 07, 2022 Kevin Rozario
January 07, 2022
Dubai International Airport

Perfume sales accounted for one in every five dollars spent at Dubai Duty Free last year, as the travel retailer clocked up total revenue of $976 million, up 40% on 2020, but still less than half of 2019’s $2.03 billion. The company oversees one of the biggest airport shopping operations in the world at Dubai International Airport.

Sales of perfumes reached $191 million, 19.6% of Dubai Duty Free’s annual sales, and ranking second was the liquor category with sales of $169 million, or 17% of the total. About $6.3 million of the perfume haul came from a three-day 38th anniversary promotion in December. Over the full year, more than nine million sales transactions were processed, an average of 25,000 per day, with over 26 million units of merchandise sold.

Perfumes on fire, but not cosmetics

The perfume category has increased its leadership at the duty-free retailer, reflecting a wider pandemic trend for consumers to double down on tried-and-trusted sectors and brands. While 2019 perfume sales at the retailer were much higher at over $300 million, they only accounted for 15% of the total annual sales, whereas they were almost 20% last year.

Interestingly, cosmetics had a poor showing. It was the third best-selling category in 2019 with $232.5 million in sales and contributed 11% towards total revenue. In 2021, cosmetics dropped out of the top five, a casualty of COVID. The beauty segment relies on testing and interaction with advisors, two things travelers have tended to avoid. Nudging it out of the top five was gold with sales of $79.5 million—always in demand during a crisis.

Reflecting on the overall performance, Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, said in a statement: “Despite the challenges of the pandemic it has been a very good year.”

Omicron not yet an issue

While COVID-19 and the Omicron variant have overshadowed the business, the retailer completed several projects in 2021 and has further plans for the year ahead. They included the opening of a Christian Dior boutique and a Louis Vuitton store. “We are now looking forward to the opening of a Cartier boutique and the reopening of our Chanel boutique in the first quarter of this year,” said the CEO.

For 2022, Dubai Duty Free is targeting $1.39 billion in sales, but Dubai Duty Free’s Chief Operating Officer Ramesh Cidambi told BeautyMatter that this might be “a stretch” if the Omicron situation continues, but only if the airport is affected in terms of new flight restrictions that lead to fewer people traveling.

On December 30, Dubai International Airport announced that only ticketed passengers would be allowed into its terminals as part of measures to minimize crowding and ensure the health and well-being of passengers and front-line employees. An estimated two million passengers are expected to pass through DXB between December 29, 2021 and January 8, 2022.


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