New research has found that UK travellers will spend over £56m at UK airports during this period, considered the “busiest time of the year”, spending on average £62 per person each time they fly.
According to the research by payments company FreedomPay, UK airports are expecting almost one million passengers arriving or departing on over 5,400 flights across the festive period between 21 and 25 December.
The survey of 2,500 UK air travellers and their airport shopping habits found that of the average 98 minutes people spend in the airport prior to take-off, almost 30 minutes of that time is spent making purchases from both retail and catering outlets.
Research found that men were the biggest shoppers at the airport, spending an average of £68, in comparison to £57 for women. When asked about what they usually buy, it was found that men tended to prioritise alcohol, whereas women opted for confectionery, beauty and fragrance items.
Over 55s spend the longest time in airports at an average of 113 minutes, compared to other age groups who rush through duty free, spending just 21 minutes shopping. The younger age groups tend to spend more time in duty free, with 18 to 24-year-olds dedicating 40 minutes to shopping, followed by 25 to 34-year-olds who spend 34 minutes on average.
Scottish travellers were found to spend the least amount of time in airports at just 85 minutes, with 25 minutes spent in duty free, yet Scots were found to spend well above the national average at £82 per person. Londoners came a close second in least time spent in the airports at 90 minutes but have the third highest expenditure at £79 per person.
The study also identified the top three most popular methods of paying for airport purchases with debit cards topping the list at 38%. Cash landed second at 28% and in third place were credit cards with 22% of air travellers making this their preferred method of payment.
Tony Hammond, MD of FreedomPay Europe, said: “Retail is a big part of airport commercial revenue and the development of retail offerings also contribute to its growth. Our research shows how consumer programmes as well as ease and speed of payment transaction are extremely valuable to air travellers.
“It is important, therefore, to recognise that partnerships between retailers and payments innovators is not just beneficial to their business but also valuable for passenger’s travel experience.”
He added: “FreedomPay operates in more than 100 major airports in the US and we are now in the UK, offering one of the first open customer-centric commerce platforms to help merchants of all sizes transform their digital platforms and enable all types of payments whether for contactless in duty-free, pay-at-table in restaurants or loyalty in coffee shops.”