Transit oriented development retail opportunity in India to touch USD 21.6 billion by 2030: Report

[] The total retail opportunity across various transport hubs in India is estimated to grow to USD 21.6 billion by 2030, says a report by Knight Frank India

The total retail opportunity across various transport hubs in India, such as airports, highways and bus stations, metro, railways, is likely to grow manifold in the new decade, says a report titled ‘Catch Them Moving’, Report on Transit Retail by Knight Frank India. Backed by a potentially healthy growth in passenger traffic and transport infrastructure, this transit retail opportunity is estimated to grow to USD 21.6 billion by 2030, the report says.

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While the retailing potential is best tapped at airports, it is still at a nascent stage for other modes like metros, railways, highways and bus stations. The report estimates the current size of transit retail in India at USD 2.2 billion. A large part of the retail opportunity at transit hubs is currently untapped due to lack of retail infrastructure at these nodes. The large retail potential translates into lease rental opportunity of USD 1 billion currently, which is estimated to grow to USD 3.2 billion by 2030. Considering the current lease rent opportunity, the government can potentially monetise these transit – oriented retail assets, to generate funding to the tune of USD 10 billion. Such monetisation will reduce dependencies on passenger tariffs and develop the retail eco-system for a largely unexplored territory. This will also open a new revenue stream for future infrastructure developments.

The potential for TOD (transit oriented development) in India

Transit oriented development retail opportunity in India to touch USD 21.6 billion by 2030: Report

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Commenting on the report, Shishir Baijal, chairman and managing director, Knight Frank India, said: “India is going through an infrastructure revolution. The government’s focus on developing and modernising the transport modes including airports, railway stations, metro and highways, is opening up unprecedented opportunities for the organised retail segment in India. The development of retail infrastructure at key transportation nodes through a public-private partnership, has presented huge opportunities to operators and retailers to monetise the potential of guaranteed footfalls with ‘wait time’.

“In India, retail real estate growth has by far been the most sensitive to domestic and global conditions. With organised retail still only a fraction of the total retail market in India, while having one of the largest population base, there is ample scope of growth in the country. Most of the organised retail growth in India so far, has been based out of mall developments with sales heavily dependent on footfalls and conversions thereafter. The advent of transit retail will provide retailers with a captive audience that is willing to spend. Having said this, the transport hubs will have to create appropriate space, with prominence and visibility, smart revenue models and correct product mix, to ensure that retailers see value in their presence in a transport hub.”

[] What is Transit Oriented Development (TOD) in India

Retail opportunities at transport hubs in India

Parameters Period Airport Metro Railways Roads Bus station Total
Existing passenger traffic (Million, annual) 2019 349 2,623 16,134 190* 29,561
Retail market
Estimated market size (USD billion, annual) 2019 1.4 0.6 0.1 0.1 0.01 2.2
Projected retail opportunity (USD billion, annual) 2030 9.3 5.6 1.9 4.2 0.9 21.6
Private operator market opportunity
Operator (lease rent) opportunity (USD billion, annual) 2019 0.4 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.03 1.0
Projected operator (lease rent) opportunity (USD billion, annual) 2030 1.6 0.8 0.3 0.5 0.1 3.2

Source: Knight Frank Research

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Note: * Growth in annual passenger traffic; Retail refers to Modern Retail

Saurabh Mehrotra, national director – valuation and advisory, Knight Frank India said, “Transport infrastructure projects involve significant capital expenditure, often requiring budgetary support for development or viability gap funding for PPP projects. Many of these projects also find it difficult to sustain operations expenditure, especially in the early phases of operation. Land value capture through property development presents an excellent opportunity to improve project viability. Integrated development of retail and F&B, can play an important role in enhancing the share of non-box fare revenues, while parallelly enhancing the customer value proposition. Transit retail over the next decade is likely to develop into a Rs 20,000-crore annual income opportunity. This, if properly executed, it can go a long way in easing the burden of future infrastructure development.”

Major findings of the ‘Catch Them Moving’ report on transit retail


  • Total retail opportunity for airports is projected to grow to USD 9.3 billion by 2030, from USD 1.4 billion in 2019.
  • Lease rental opportunity projected to touch USD 1.6 billion by 2030, for airport operators.
  • Duty-free accounted for more than 59% of the total lease rental in 2019.
  • Retail revenue per passenger is highest for Mumbai International Airport at USD 7, followed by USD 6 for Delhi International Airport, in 2019.
  • Air passenger traffic estimated to reach 1.1 billion by 2030 in India, from 349 million in 2019.

Metro stations

  • Total retail opportunity at metro stations projected to grow to USD 5.6 billion by 2030 from USD 0.6 billion in 2019.
  • Annual passenger traffic in metro, which is estimated to touch 7.32 billion by 2030, will be the biggest growth driver for retail.
  • Lease rental opportunity projected to grow to USD 0.8 billion in 2030.

Railway stations

  • Total retail opportunity at redeveloped railway stations projected to reach USD 1.9 billion by 2030, from USD 0.1 billion in 2019.
  • Government’s focus on augmenting rail infrastructure and modernising existing stations is the biggest enabler.
  • Lease rent opportunity projected to hit USD 0.3 billion by 2030.


  • Total retail opportunity for highway retail in India to reach USD 4.2 billion by 2030, from USD 0.1 billion in 2019.
  • Lease rental opportunity projected to grow to USD 0.5 billion by 2030.
  • Government’s initiatives and increasing passenger momentum biggest drivers.

Bus stations

  • Total retail/mixed-use development potential at bus stations projected to reach USD 0.9 billion by 2030, from USD 0.01 billion in 2019.
  • Lease rental opportunity projected to grow to USD 0.1 billion by 2030.

“Transport Terminals offer guaranteed footfalls every single day, maybe with different passenger dwell times and different propensity to spend. A good terminal would try to subtly encourage passengers into shops and eating joints on the way as part of their journey. Other than designs related to core travel, it is always better to consider early in planning and design of a terminal, factors such as passenger flow through the terminal, spend profile, layout, size and presentation of the shops/units, product mix, etc. They are very important to enhance the customer’s ever-increasing expectation of journey experience and for the operator a solid window to increase non-farebox revenues,” concluded Rajeev Vijay, executive director – government and infrastructure advisory, Knight Frank India.


How much can the government earn by monetising transit retail assets?

At current lease levels, the government can generate funding to the tune of USD 10 billion, by monetising transit-oriented retail assets.

Which are the best transit-oriented development sites for retail?

The total retail opportunity by 2030 is highest for airports (USD 9.3 billion), followed by metro stations (USD 5.6 billion), highways (USD 4.2 billion), railway stations (USD 1.9 billion) and bus stations (USD 0.9 billion).

Which modes of transport have the highest traffic in India?

Roads witnessed annual traffic growth of 190 million, while the existing annual passenger traffic at bus stations was 29,561 million, followed by railways (16,134 million), metro (2,623 million) and airports (349 million).

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Category: Lifestyle

Debora Berti

Università degli Studi di Firenze, IT

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