Sales, Screening: As retail rebounds, enter the TSA

by Jodi Prill, Associate Editor

Jersey City, NJ - Just beyond a stunning view of the changed Manhattan skyline, airport managers and retailers met here in October for the Embry-Riddle/ ACI-NA Airport Concessions Analysis Seminar.

The focus of the conference was on bringing retail back to pre-9/11 levels, as well as dealing with upcoming Transportation Security Adminis-tration mandates.

Hudson Group and MarketPlace Development are just two companies in attendance that report positive changes with their retail programs.

In order to cope with changes in the airport retail environment, Joseph DiDomizio, executive VP, Hudson Group, says "We looked within first, we had to figure out ways to cut expenses, without cutting services, to maximize sales." He says the company has reevaluated design, merchandising, and operational strategies, both land- and airside. The company then was able to positively effect same store sales from January to August 2002 by 14 percent, from the same period 2001.

Paul McGinn, executive VP of Market-Place Development, says total enplanements at Pittsburgh Interna-tional are down 9 percent, but sales per enplanement are up 15 percent and total sales have seen a 4 percent increase.

INVENTORY SCREENING

TSA is working to implement a program in which all inventory delivered to the airport will be screened. Comments Winona Varnon, director of airport security and aviation operations for TSA, "We understand every airport is unique."

According to Varnon, TSA officials are engaged in assessing "existing threats to the airside security environment and developing comprehensive countermeasures."

Following this analysis, TSA will meet with airport officials and representatives from aviation trade associations to "develop recommendations to enhance airport security." From here, a menu of options will be developed from which an airport can choose the most effective means to develop an integrated security approach for screening inventory.

Lou Bottino, senior VP for The Paradies Shops, has one recommendation for TSA: "We need defined replenishment procedures."

Bottino describes a range of processes at different Paradies locations. At Pittsburgh International, the company uses a third-party distributor and has "adequate" warehouse/receiving facilities. At Dallas/Forth Worth International, Bottino says that Paradies uses off-site warehousing and complete merchandise screening is required. At Detroit’s Midfield Terminal, "inconsistent dockmaster performance and inadequate dockmaster/concessionaire facilities" make operations difficult for the company, he says.

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