Gross retail sales at Heathrow exceeded €2 billion for the first time in 2011, with retailers at the airport posting 8.8% growth in gross turnover.
Heathrow is attributing the record performance to a boom in luxury spending and its exposure to big spending passengers from the BRIC nations – Brazil, Russia, India and China.
The total means that Heathrow has the highest retail sales of any airport in the world, beating both Dubai and Seoul–Incheon, which have led the way in recent years.
Heathrow’s net tetail income per passenger increased by 5.3% to €5.2 (2010: €4.95).
Total clothing and accessories sales across the airport experienced a 17.7% growth.
Passengers from the BRIC nations spent an average of €55 in 2011, compared to €44.6 in 2010 and a strong portfolio of international luxury brands.
Airport research and passenger feedback has led Heathrow to continue to strengthen its strong portfolio of premium brands – which already includes Chanel, Hermes and Prada - with the opening of Miu Miu in Terminal 3 last autumn.
Pop-up stores have additionally contributed to the growth in sales of luxury goods, and the Heathrow retail team has collaborated with brands including Jack Wills, Ray-Ban, Chanel Watches and Laduree.
Muriel Zingraff, retail concessions director at Heathrow, said: "We now have passengers who are choosing to fly through Heathrow specifically to pick up items sold here and we have continued to witness a significant increase in demand for luxury goods from Chinese passengers as well as the Middle East with British brands such as Mulberry, Burberry and Smythson proving particularly popular.
"As part of the modernisation and improvement of Heathrow we are continually seeking out new brands and retailers as well as developing new concept stores that we know will resonate with our target market."
World Duty Free also performed strongly posting growth of 12.7%.
Heathrow's retail performance is bucking the trend of UK high street sales where the most recent figures show a growth of just 1.3% according to the Office of National Statistics and a 0.9% decline in footfall according to the British Retail Consortium.
John Holland-Kaye, commercial director at Heathrow, said: "These latest retail results are very encouraging and we are delighted that our retail partners and our airport team have worked so well together to deliver such an amazing performance in a time of economic slowdown."