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Is duty free cheaper?
Our investigation found that duty free prices are more expensive than shops
You have a bit of time to kill before boarding your flight to sunnier pastures and that battered old book sitting in your hand luggage isn’t quite going to cut it. What do you do? Have a gander at the duty-free goodies on offer, of course.
But are we actually saving money when shopping at the airport, compared to retail prices on the high street or online?
Duty-free fans look away because we’ve crunched some numbers and found that airport shopping works out approximately 17% more expensive, with some products costing 150% more if you buy before you fly.
How much cheaper is duty free?
We analysed 48 products across the different retail categories found at duty-free shops to see how much more (or less!) they cost than the cheapest online price.
The majority of categories were more expensive, with chocolate and sweets costing 67% more on average than the price you can get them online. It wasn’t just the cheaper items that had higher prices, with sunglasses, suncare products and wines also costing significantly more than elsewhere.
Some bargains can be found though, with spirits and liqueurs costing 5% less than anywhere else on average and makeup also offering the best deals, costing on average 16% cheaper than online prices.
|Item||Percentage change from retail price to duty-free price|
|Suncare & Tanning||37%|
|Spirits & Liqueurs||-5%|
|Wines & Ports||9%|
|Chocolate & Sweets||67%|
|Tea, Biscuits & Foods||30%|
Most expensive duty free items
Food and confectionary are the biggest culprits, costing a whopping 49% more at the likes of Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick than the supermarket.
Cadbury’s Oreo took home the title for the worst offender in this category with the airport version of a 300g bar setting you back £5. Check online and you’ll find the very same bar for just £2.
Fashion and luxury items were also found to cost more at the airport than their retail counterparts. You could save £32 by purchasing your next pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses for just £81 online, instead of forking out £113 at duty-free.
|Ultrasun Aftersun 150ml||Duty Free Price||£16.30|
|Percentage change from retail||63.16%|
|Grey goose Vodka 1L||Duty Free Price||£45.69|
|Percentage change from retail||43.23%|
|Rayban RB3025||Duty Free Price||£113.30|
|Percentage change from retail||39.88%|
|Cadbury Oreo 300g||Duty Free Price||£5.00|
|Percentage change from retail||150.00%|
Cheapest duty free items
Not everything is more expensive at the airport and you can actually find some good deals. You could save £23 on Dior perfume and 30% on a bottle of Absolute Vodka, but the cheapest confectionary we could find was still more expensive than online.
Retail prices used were the cheapest found online. The prices here may not be the same at all retailers and will fluctuate.
All prices as of 17/06/2019
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