Hudson to Introduce New Retail Concept in Airports

Without question the state of travel is evolving in light of the coronavirus crisis, but the retailer Hudson is debuting its own evolution in airports.

Hudson, a Dufry company, is introducing Evolve by Hudson, a concept shop format geared for its stores in airports. The retailer has more than 1,000 stores in airports, commuter hubs, tourist locations and other points of interest.

The Evolve by Hudson debut is a shift by the company to larger, more integrated store concepts. Shoppers will find different brands in sunglasses, electronics and entertainment, personal care and wellness, luggage and writing instruments, accessories and apparel, local goods and souvenirs, and travel essentials and snacks.

A variety of national and global brands will be offered in the new concept such as Sunglass Hut sunglasses, Apple products, Burt’s Bees personal care products, Tumi luggage, Happy Socks and different travel essentials. The venture is being done to offer travelers and develop integrated brand experiences. Through the alliance with Sunglass Hut, Ray Ban and Oakley sunglasses will be sold.

By broadening the number of brands that are available to shoppers, the travel retailer aims to make airport shopping more convenient and create new retail partnerships.

The first Evolve by Hudson store will bow later this summer at Nashville International Airport. After that, seven additional locations are planned including Dallas Love Field Airport and Las Vegas McCarran International Airport.

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The multibrand strategy seems to be an effort to ramp up average purchases beyond the typical grab-n-go bottled water and bag of nuts. Like the airports themselves, airport-based retailers were hit hard by the drastic decline in travel triggered by the coronavirus crisis.

Travel spending totaled $679 billion in 2020 representing a 42 percent annual drop from 2018, according to the U.S. Travel Association. International travel spending fell 76 percent and business travel fell 70 percent compared to a 34 percent decline for domestic travel.

In late June, the Federal Aviation Administration said U.S. airports were receiving $8 billion in federally funded grants pandemic relief. To help airports largely populated by commercial airlines, the package included $800 million to provide rent relief for companies that offer food and retail stores in airports.

Each store will have at least 2,000 square feet and will be designed with an open format to simplify shopping. There will also be digital signage on the stores’ exteriors to give passersby a glimpse of the offerings from the concourse.

Travelers who visit the stores will find a circular traffic flow to guide them past the floor displays and toward the shops-in-shop. Consumers will be able to choose from different checkout options like a traditional one, as well as self-checkout kiosks and Hudson’s newly developed mobile point of sale capabilities. The latter will enable Hudson employees to complete transactions for shoppers from anywhere on the sales floor in the brand shops-in-shop.

A Hudson spokeswoman was unable to respond to questions Thursday.

In addition to Happy Socks, the clothing and accessories offerings will include socks from Stance, leather gifts from Royce New York and underwear and apparel from Bread & Boxers. The new concept will also feature more localized merchandise from local artists, suppliers, start-ups and sports teams, as well as candy and travel items from Hudson’s proprietary “Traveler’s Best” line.

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