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Travelers, you're spending more on airport food and retail goods

November 13, 2013|By Christopher Reynolds
  • A new survey says passenger spending on food, drink and retail items is up at U.S. airports. Here, multimedia displays entertain passengers at the recently ugpraded and expanded Bradley International Terminal at LAX.
A new survey says passenger spending on food, drink and retail items is up… (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times )

A new survey says U.S. travelers spent $5.15 per person per departure on airport food last year.

That might sound pretty frugal, given the prices at many airport shops and eateries, even if you're just looking for a salad in a plastic box. But a trade group known as “the voice of the airports” says that passenger spending in airports has been steadily rising since 2009, both on food and on retail items.

The survey was conducted by the Airports Council International – North America and drew on data from 94 airports that together handle nearly 80% of the country’s air passenger traffic.

The survey also cited FAA statistics (for all airports) showing that U.S. travelers spent $533 million on airport food and beverages in 2012.

Other findings of the ACI-NA survey:

-Those upscale vending boxes from Best Buy and others might be earning more than you are. Automated retail units that peddle electronics, cosmetics, apparel and other items are present in half of the airports surveyed, and produce an average gross sales of more than $100,000 per year.

-Shoppers at the surveyed airports in 2012 spent an average of $3.31 per departure on news, gifts and specialty retail items. That’s up from $3.10 the year before.

-Some 39% of the airports surveyed now have their own smartphone apps, up from 33% the year before.

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