Airport retail is beating the economic downturn and sales are expected to hit £30 billion this year.

Turnover at airport shops will rise 11 per cent, according to Verdict Research, making it the fastest growing retail sector after the internet.

Verdict lead analyst Nick Gladding said: “The key factors stimulating this growth are increased affluence, growing tourism, rapidly expanding airline networks and new routes. The increase in business travel, as a result of globalisation, is providing a further boost to airport retailers.”

The Middle East has experienced the fastest growth of traffic to its airports, with sales in its key markets – United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman – more than doubling to reach US$1.2 billion (£642.2 million) between 2002 and 2007. Verdict estimates that sales in the region will hit US$2.5 billion (£1.34 billion) by 2012.

The emerging Indian and Chinese markets are also continuing to enjoy rocketing sales growth at airports. Spending in Indian and Chinese markets is expected to reach US$318 million (£170.2 million) and US$612 million (£327.5 million) respectively by 2012.