Next top mall: SFO to open high-end stores 

In yet another attempt to make San Francisco International a world-class airport, high-end retailers and Bay Area name brands will soon line the airport’s corridor to entice travelers into spending dollars.

In December, a Gucci boutique opened in the post-security section of the airport’s International Terminal. Officials said then that since SFO is a hub for international travel, high-end stores would be appealing to travelers on their way to Asia, for example.

The airport is moving forward with plans to increase its retail base, for both pre- and post-security shops. Several of the airport’s leases are set to expire in coming years, and retailers will then have to enter competitive bidding for airport space, according to airport spokesman Mike McCarron. On Tuesday, the San Francisco Airport Commission approved $200,000 in consulting services to analyze what is needed and where.

There are 40 to 50 retailers airportwide offering goods ranging from the in-flight books and local souvenirs to $1,000 designer handbags. Only eight of those stores, including Sephora, the S.F. Museum of Modern Art Museum Store and Brookstone, are pre-security. In September, the Airport Commission approved 3,000 square feet in post-security retail space that will include Polo Ralph Lauren and Montblanc.

McCarron did not have the airport’s rent figures ortax revenue handy on Tuesday. But rent, which is based on square footage of the spaces, ranges greatly.

Michael Payne, executive director of the nonprofit International Association of Airport Duty Free Stores, said the industry is on target to surpass the $27 billion it made worldwide in 2006.

Duty-free stores are only open to travelers leaving the country and often require a ticket stub or sometimes even a passport to shop in. They often feature designer items for discounted rates, Payne said.

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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