By  on December 12, 2008

The message from the Tax Free World Association show in Cannes was clear: beauty may be recession resistant, but it certainly isn't reality proof.

The global beauty industry’s ATM machine, known as the worldwide duty free business, is wobbling badly as it flies into severe economic downdrafts. There was a growing chill in the air as the confidence level dropped faster than attendance figures during the TFWA (Tax Free World Association) World Exhibition held in October in Cannes. The duty free channel possesses two attributes not seen in American department stores since the Reagan administration: foot traffic and impulse buying. What results is quite a golden egg: According to Generation, which tracks global figures, total duty free and travel retail sales generated $34 billion in 2007, including beauty, liquor, tobacco, accessories and ready-to-wear. Fragrances and cosmetics alone accounted for 30 percent, or $10.2 billion.

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