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Travel Retail
who buys what?

Chinese tourists’ average spending amount is 1,124 million won (=942.97 USD). Shopping expenditures of more than 100 million won (=83,894 USD) is excluded in the average calculation as those huge spenders from China were regarded as Dai Gou, Chinese middlemen. The average purchase amount of duty-free shops at Incheon Airport Corporation made by these Dai Gou reached 230 million won(=19,295.64 USD).

picture : Chinese shoppers and Dai Gou are unpacking their Duty Free purchases in order to squeeze the volume of their luggage. 

Most purchased items at Incheon Airport Duty Free Shops by foreign buyers were ‘Cosmetic / Perfume’. Asian DF shoppers’ preference on beauty category is the highest, except Japanese shoppers who prefer purchase food (45.4%). Chinese shoppers’ spending is absolutely focused on beauty products ( 79.5%).





The average TOTAL shopping amount of Japanese tourists in Korea is 480,000 won (402.69 USD) per person, which is much lower than other countries such as China. This amount is only 25% of the average spending amount of total foreign shoppers.

The average purchase amount made at Incheon Airport Duty Free Shops by Japanese nationals was also low. The average purchase amount of respondents was 240,000 won (201.35 USD), which is only 34% of the average foreign shoppers’ purchase amount (700,000 won = 587.26USD) at the Incheon Airport Duty Free Shops.

So which products do Asian tourists purchase in Korean Travel Retail channel, the biggest market in the world?

  • BEAUTY 61.5% 61.5%
  • FOOD 28.8% 28.8%
  • TOBACCO 22.3% 22.3%
  • FASHION & ACCESSORIES 13.6% 13.6%
  • LIQUOR 8.9% 8.9%
  • LUXURY GOODS 8.9% 8.9%
  • SOUVENIRS 8.9% 8.9%
  • ELECTRONIC GOODS 3.2% 3.2%

The survey was conducted in May and June 2019 through the Incheon International Airport Corporation’s ‘Investigation of the Characteristics of User Shopping Behaviors for Strengthening Duty Free Shops at Incheon Airport’. The survey was conducted on-site questions and self-assessments for travelers aged 18 and over who leave and transfer through the Incheon International Airport Passenger Terminal. The total number of valid samples was 4,000.


The duty-free sales in Korea heavily depends on Chinese shoppers.  

Source: Korea Duty Free News (

Korean Travel Retail Business

The Korean duty-free market is estimated at 25 trillion won (=21,125 billion USD, rate 1 USD = 1,183 KW), up 32% year-on-year in 2019. The average annual growth rate for the last 10 years from 2008 to 2018 is 19.7%. It is the onblt channel that achieves such big growth year on year while other Korean distribution channels (such as hypermarkets, department stores, and convenience stores) are showing single-digit growth. This is why the duty free channel is called the “Golden Egg Goose” In Korea.

  • The Biggest market in the world
  • Over 21 billion USD
  • Key category is beauty

Chinese tourists’ average spending amount

Dai Gou Spending (average)is 83.4 K USD

Chinese tourists spend 79.5% of total for Beauty products

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