If you like good-looking shops in which to while away the pre-flight time, Heathrow’s Terminal 2 is much better than most.
It’s a little over a year since Heathrow reopened Terminal 2 and if you like good-looking shops in which to while away the pre-flight time, this is much better than most. And so it should be.
Airport retailing is a notoriously expensive business. A unit in one of these places is going to mean that every square inch is sweated… or that the merchandise on offer is mind-alteringly expensive.
Things may well not be cheap(er) at an airport when set against the high street. It certainly seems that unless Smythson, Gucci or Paul Smith are readily within your grasp and the high streets you frequent are very upscale, then airports are going to seem pricey.
Yet a quick wander around T2 reveals one signal fact. The shops here are at the top of their game. They are not just better designed, but they are welcoming to anybody who is passing, in a way that many high street shops are not.
Once more, they have to be. If they are to justify the cost of operating, then sales have to be made, even at what might seem the top end of better end.
There are, of course, exceptions. In T2, you can visit John Lewis or Cath Kidston, denizens of this shopping concourse that you might not have expected. That said, they are highly ‘curated’ - that is, they tend to have smaller and more expensive stuff than their high street counterparts, but they are there.
There are however some exclusions to this fest of retail’s best. Poundland, 99p Stores or Sports Direct have yet to make their mark on T2 and maybe that’s the way shoppers want it. Shopping in an airport is about self-treating, rather than saving money, which rather precludes discounting.
But here’s a thought. Mid-market retailers wanting to know what’s next in terms of the way their stores might be developed should buy a cheap ticket starting at T2 to somewhere they don’t want to visit and then miss the flight.
Instead, they should take a look around what’s been done in T2 and take away a few pointers – as a lesson, it would be relatively cheap. And if the worst comes to the worst, you can always board the flight and check out the offer at the airport you arrive at, although it will not be as good as what you’ve left.
At the moment, airports are better than high streets.