The company’s first US travel shopping destination recently opened its doors at Salt Lake City International Airport. But it won’t be the last: in conjunction with retail partner Marshall Retail Group (MRG), the LEGO Group is apparently planning to open up to 12 more LEGO Stores in US airports in 2021.
It might seem like madness to focus on travel retail in the middle of a pandemic, but the coronavirus outbreak may actually be the driving force behind this new expansion. That’s because while international travel is heavily restricted, domestic travel across the US has spiked in 2020. Dotting LEGO Stores throughout airports therefore places bricks in front of many more potential shoppers.
Of course, the return of international travel would provide an even bigger boost. And that’s the factor that will ultimately determine the final number of airport LEGO Stores set to open in 2021.
“We’re targeting 12 stores to open within the next year, but it’s all dependent on opportunity and how the travel market comes back,” MRG’s president and chief operating officer David Charles told Forbes. “What makes this hard is COVID and how a vaccine is administered.
“We are planning more locations, some of which have been awarded but we can’t mention yet. We’re in discussions for others.”
Signs are good at the moment, though: the Salt Lake City International Airport store is apparently thriving. “We developed our sales assumptions well before the pandemic,” Charles said. “A week into trading and the sales are close to where we projected without a COVID impact. So we’re very excited about that result and the potential for when the market returns. We feel that this category in specialty retail is under-served in airports and the customer is confirming that belief.”
The LEGO Group is already looking beyond 2021, too. The company’s Head of Sales for Travel Retail Americas and Middle East, Simon Stansfield Bast, told Forbes: “We want to be present in the busiest airports in the US over the next two to five years.”
MRG is owned by British retailer WHSmith, which has outlets in airports across the UK. If all goes to plan in the US, then, could we see LEGO Stores popping up at Heathrow, Stansted or Manchester? We’ll have to wait and see.
Given the partnership with MRG, though, the shopping experience wouldn’t be entirely the same as a traditional LEGO Store. As Brick Fanatics recently reported, the Salt Lake City International Airport store is more akin to a LEGO Certified Store: it doesn’t use the VIP program, gift vouchers aren’t accepted, and you won’t find current gifts-with-purchase.
There may be other freebies on offer, though, and you can pick up LEGO-exclusive sets like 76139 1989 Batmobile and 10276 Colosseum. Plus, you can ship sets out from the store to avoid carrying them on your flight. (Somehow, we don’t think the Colosseum will fit in an overhead locker.)