Terminal trends: What are Britons spending on in airports?
December 4th, 2023, Bhavika Bansal

Terminal trends: What are Britons spending on in airports?

From duty-free shopping and grabbing a pint at the pub to social media check-ins and relaxing in the lounge, an airport is a bustling hub of many pre-flight rituals and indulgences. In this exploration of typical British airport habits, we turn our attention to Britons who have taken a domestic or international flight for leisure in the past 12 months and ask what they generally do with their time at the airport, what they shop for and how much they usually spend.

According to data from YouGov Profiles nearly half of our respondents generally make use of airport wifi (47%) followed by 44% who shop at Duty Free and 42% who eat at airport restaurants.

On the other hand, they are least likely to use computer facilities (3%) or play games provided by the airport (2%).

A closer look at the data by gender tells us that British women are significantly likelier than British men to shop at the duty free (54% vs. 35%), at airport newsagents and bookshops (40% vs. 28%) and at airport pharmacies (17% vs. 9%).

However, an almost equal share of both cohorts is likely to eat at an airport restaurant (men, 41%; women, 44%), go to the pub (men, 27%; women, 30%) and use an airline lounge (men, 20%; women, 18%).

An analysis of Britons’ airport spends using data from YouGov Profiles displays that more than a third (34%) typically spend up to £20 after going through airport security while a quarter spend between £20 and £40. Breaking down these airport spending habits by age reveals further nuances.

Two out of five 18-to-34-year-old Britons who have flown on a domestic or short, medium or long-haul international flight in the past year say they usually spend up to £20 at the airport (41%) compared to 28% of Britons aged 35-54 and 33% of Britons aged 55 and above.

Our respondents above the age of 55 however, are the likeliest of all age groups to spend between £20 and £40 (30%).

Though less than a tenth of 35-to-54-year-olds say they typically spend upwards of £100 at the airport (7%), they are still twice as likely to do so than their younger and older counterparts (18-34, 3%; 55+, 4%).

Despite differences in their activities of choice, it is evident that Britons are willing to spend more than their time at the airport. But what are their top choices of products to buy at the airport duty free?

While a third of respondents say they tend to purchase fragrances (30%), less than one out of four say the same about spirits and liqueurs (23%) and chocolates (22%).

Slightly more than a tenth of Brits say they spend on tobacco (12%) and make-up products (11%). Whiskies (7%) and wines (5%) round out the top ten products Britons who fly for leisure are most likely to buy from airport Duty Free.

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Methodology: YouGov Profiles is based on continuously collected data and rolling surveys, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Profiles data for Great Britain is nationally representative and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race. Learn more about Profiles