Luggage Check: Increased travel boosts luggage industry

A United Airlines flight attendant walks through a pedestrian overpass at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois.

2012 was a good year for the travel industry. Airline consolidation has allowed carriers to cut costs, boost efficiencies and raise fares. The same could be said for industries farther down the food chain…think luggage.  

At Passport Luggage and Gifts at the St. Louis Galleria mall, Scott Ford has got his sales pitch down.

"What we've got is a poly-carb bag, it is in a black matte, it's got a 4-wheel system on it," he says. Ford is the store's manager and he's showing off a medium-sized carry-on made by the German company Rimowa. It cost's $525.

"People are not only buying it, it's doing very very well," Ford says.

Ford's store is doing so well it just opened a second location. After years of cutbacks, he says people appear to be traveling again. And the numbers back him up, says David Huether, a senior vice president for research and economics at the U.S. Travel Association.

"When you have, as you have now, travel increasing to an all-time high in 2013, it does have positive spillover effects," says Huether. While domestic travel has been rising, Huether says the real driver of the industry is emerging markets like China, India and Brazil.

"The importance of the emerging markets really can't be overstated with respect to the travel industry," Huether says.

In terms of growth, Asia generated a full third of luggage-maker Samsonite's sales in 2010. That prompted Samsonite to float its IPO's on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, to be closer to one of its main customers.

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