The Latest Caribbean Shopping Trends

Caribbean Shopping
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Taking a look at shopping, retail the latest Caribbean Shopping trends for cruise visitors

By Bill Panoff
Op-Ed Contributor

Shopping and retail in the Caribbean cruise industry have developed and grown tremendously over the years. As the cruise and travel industries evolve and travelers become more discerning, there is a shift taking place in the Caribbean shopping experience attracting a significant influx of international luxury brands to the market.  With the retail industry continuing to progress and better accommodate the preferences of the modern day cruise shopper, the cruise lines and island destinations need to take notice.

Luxury Boutiques

There has been exponential growth of luxury, stand-alone or mono-brand boutiques offering guests a custom, specialized luxury shopping experience. Major brands such as Bvlgari, Tag Heuer, Breitling, Omega, Longines and Hublot, are recognizing an untapped market of shoppers on cruise lines who are looking for the high-end boutique shopping experience. These all-encompassing brand boutiques employee highly trained staff who go through similar training as those in the upscale New York boutiques, often being sent to Switzerland for precision watch training or Italy to see handcrafted techniques used by the finest jewelers before being considered eligible to work in a brand’s boutique.

Special Shopping Events 

There has been an increased number of shopping events onboard such as trunk shows, which brings unique products such as jewelry, watches and perfumes directly to guests.  These are exclusive and limited time experiences, which provide an added touch point for brands interested in reaching guests more than once on any cruise itinerary. For the guest, these trunk shows offer great deals and incentives. For the retailer, the sense of urgency in the opportunity generates a solid boost in sales.

Local Specialties

With a growing interest in cultural tourism, travelers are more often seeking local handcrafted goods that are authentic and are exclusive to the region.  Local shop owners and craftsman have recognized this demand and are capitalizing on it, increasing their offerings of traditional Caribbean designer apparel, accessories, spices, hot sauce, rum, tequila and liqueurs – the most sought-after Caribbean goods among visitors.  Most destinations such as Nassau do a good job pushing their local products, but there is a great opportunity for more destinations to grow this critically important segment for the local economy.

A Few Things to Consider 

With the retail market continuing to change, it will be interesting to see how cruise lines and Caribbean ports of call that focus on shopping adapt.  One thing is for sure, everyone wants a good deal in the end.

Bill Panoff is president and CEO of PPI Group, a Fort Lauderdale-based multimedia company that specializes in video production, custom publishing, and onboard shopping programs. He is also publisher and editor-in-chief of the consumer cruise magazine, Porthole Cruise Magazine, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.