A passenger pulls rolling luggage through Hartsfield-Jackson International in April. Officials want airport shops to have a more local flavor. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM
Photo: Jason Getz / AJC
Photo: Jason Getz / AJC

Hartsfield-Jackson to revamp retail shops

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is preparing a major revamp of shops in its domestic terminal and concourses.

More than 80 retail locations will be up for grabs in contract packages. Food concessions are not included, as many restaurant spaces were re-bid a few years ago.

The goal is “to bring more Atlanta into the airport”, Hartsfield-Jackson general manager Roosevelt Council said at an event Thursday for interested businesses. “We value local talent and concepts that have a sense of place.”

Because most passengers in the airport are only connecting to other flights, airport concessions manager Demetria Wideman said many “will never experience Atlanta.”

“We want them to experience our Southern hospitality, understand some of the great places to visit here,” and eventually visit Atlanta, Wideman said.

It’s been more than nine years since the world’s busiest airport last awarded contracts for such a revamp of airport retail shops, with current contracts expiring next year.

“We’re looking for fresh concepts,” Council said.

In addition to contract packages for shops around the airport, one contract will be for retail vending, such as machines selling high-tech gadgets, beauty products or cuff links.

Last year, airport businesses including shops, restaurants, rental cars, advertising, banking, luggage carts and other services generated a record $1 billion in sales last year, according to airport officials. That money helps fund airport operations and expansion or upgrade programs.

Officials have struggled to generate more interest in shopping for things like clothes at the airport — and they made that a focus in an airport hackathon last month. While some international hub airports have thrived on high-end boutiques and brand names, that’s less common in U.S. airports.

The foot traffic is huge: Hartsfield-Jackson handled more than 104 million passengers last year, more than any other airport in the world. Locations are often No. 1 in sales for their entire chain. The airport expects the new shops to generate a combined $110 million in gross revenue.

Jockeying for big dollars also means big potential for conflict. The restaurant contract awards were hotly contested and generated legal challenges and controversy.

Airport officials say they plan to solicit retail proposals next month and award contracts by year-end.

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AJC Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi keeps you updated on the latest news about Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Delta Air Lines and the airline industry in metro Atlanta and beyond. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:

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