5 Secrets of Duty Free That Employees Will Never Tell You

Inspiration | Dec. 11, 2017

For many people, the words "Duty Free" are synonymous with finding a bargain. It’s true that, in many cases, their location in airports lets these businesses avoid paying duty on their goods, in turn reducing prices on expensive brands. But few people realize that the exact opposite is also the case when it comes to these stores.

Bright Side decided to find out whether it really is worth buying things in Duty Free.

These stores don’t pay duty, but there’s a nuance to be remembered here: the cost of renting retail space in an airport is so high that it can often cancel out the money saved. For this reason, prices in Duty Free can actually be higher than in ordinary shops. Let’s take a look at some examples.

Lancôme’s Trésor in Love perfume costs $84 in its official stores (for the 75 ml version), $82 in New York Airport, $114 in Dubai, and $73 in Tokyo.

Flora by Gucci costs $119 on its official site, $145 in Amsterdam Airport, and just $107 in Delhi.

A lot of people buy lots of things in Duty Free because they think it always sells authentic goods, whereas fake versions of famous brands are sold in city stores. But it’s often the case that goods are first sent to an official distributor in the city and then on to the Duty Free store.

People believe that only professional sales people work in Duty Free stores. But this is far from the case. For the most part, the people who work in them are simply from the town closest to the airport, and they don’t earn any more than the rest of us.

Statistics indicate that purchases in Duty Free are generally spontaneous rather than rational. Many people buy large quantities of alcohol or cigarettes for future use because they aren’t subject to taxes. The same is also true for perfume. Everything else, however, is generally bought without serious consideration or any "strategy" in mind.

Despite all these shortcomings, it is actually possible to save money by purchasing things in Duty Free. The point is that their prices depend on two factors: their location and the local exchange rate.

It’s more advantageous to buy electronic goods in Asia, for example, while cosmetics are generally cheapest in Western Europe.

To help traveling shoppers, European-based analysts have put together a list showing how much you could potentially save at Duty Free in various countries compared to regular retail prices:

Saint-Exupéry Airport, Lyon, France — 11.9%

Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris, France — 11%

Schipol Airport, Amsterdam, Holland — 6%

Frankfurt Airport, Germany — 5.6%

Gatwick Airport, London, UK — 5%

Barcelona Airport, Spain — 5%

Barajas Airport, Madrid, Spain — 4.7%

Fiumicino Airport, Rome, Italy — 4.7%

Schönefeld Airport, Berlin, Germany — 4.6%

So you can not only recklessly spend lots of money in Duty Free but also save a lot too, provided you know what you need. Remember to check the prices online beforehand!

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