According to Domestic Travel Market Report and The Shopping Traveler, published by the U.S. Travel Association (USTA, www.ustravel.org), shopping is the most popular trip activity for U.S. adult travelers. About 91 million people, or 63% of adult travelers, include shopping as an activity on a trip. Because people can go shopping on more than one trip away from home, USTa estimates that 34% of all person-trips, or over 345 million U.S. person-trips each year, include shopping. Overnight traveler shopping trips average 4.8 nights.
Most (81%) shopping travelers say that their most recent trip that included shopping was for leisure purposes. A majority (59%) of shopping travelers obtained information about shopping areas from friends, family, or co-workers. Hotel resources (in-room maps, brochures, a TV channel guide, or the hotel concierge) were another popular source with travelers (25%).
Profile of Overseas Travelers to the United States, by the U.S. Commerce Department (www.doc.gov), reported that 87.7% of international visitors shopped while in the U.S., making this the number one tourist activity among foreign visitors. International travelers find a wealth of goods that are either unavailable in their countries or less expensive in the United States because of favorable exchange rates.
According to The Shopping Traveler, commissioned by Taubman Centers Inc. (www.taubman.com), 77% of shopping travelers most often spend money on clothes or shoes for themselves or others, rather than on souvenirs.
TRAVELER SHOPPING in USA Photo Gallery
64.2 Where Travelers Shop
According to the USTA, locations where travelers shop are as follows (multiple responses allowed in the survey, therefore the total adds to more than 100%):
• Traditional shopping center or mall: 62%
• Major downtown shopping district/Main Street: 53%
• Strip mall or plaza (not enclosed): 48%
• Outlet center: 38%
• Megamall: 25%
• Craft/art festival or event: 22%
• Hotel shop: 13%
• Airport shop: 13%
Malls are among the top tourist attractions in at least 10 states, including Texas, Missouri, Virginia, and Colorado, according to the Shop America Alliance (www.shopamericatours.com). The following is a selection of malls attracting high volumes of tourists:
• Approximately 40 million people visit the Mall of America (Minneapolis, MN), more than that of Disney World, the Grand Canyon, and Graceland combined.
• In Freeport, Maine, four million visit the area’s outlet stores each year, surpassing the number of visits to Acadia National Park.
• The Boardwalk, a shopping area in Myrtle Beach, is rated as the number one tourist attraction in South Carolina in terms of number of visitors.
• Virginia’s Potomac Mills, an outlet center near Washington, D.C., attracts more visitors than Colonial Williamsburg or Arlington National Cemetery.
• Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, an hour’s drive north of Manhattan, has as many tour bus customers as the Empire State Building.
• In a recent survey of travelers in Branson, Missouri, more people said they had come for outlet shopping than for the live music.
General Growth Properties (www.generalgrowth.com) estimates tourism accounts for 31% of sales at its centers, and an internal audit revealed tourist spending at more than $1 billion in 29 of its shopping centers.
The Mills Corporation (www.themills.com) sees 200 million visitors at its 12 centers each year, and 25% of those visitors are tourists, according to Chain Store Age. Sawgrass Mills, the 1.9 million sq. ft. complex in Sunrise, Florida, offering retail and entertainment, is the largest outlet mall in Florida. It is second only to Walt Disney World as the most popular tourist attraction in the state, according to The Mills Corporation. Sawgrass Mills has approximately 25 million visitors annually, and an estimated 40% are tourists. As many as 65% of the tourists visiting Sawgrass Mills are from international locales.
Flagship sporting goods and outdoor recreation megastores – some with aquariums, museums, climbing walls, and pistol ranges – have become retail destinations. Cabela’s store in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, for example, features a 55,000-gallon aquarium and a deer museum. The 250,000 sq. ft. store has become one of the state’s top tourist destinations, attracting an estimated seven million annual visitors.
According to Retail Traffic, customers at Bass Pro Shops drive an average of 100 miles to reach the company’s 50 locations, and many are known to drive up to 300 miles each way to spend time at the massive outdoor supercenters.
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