Duty free more expensive than online shopping, research shows

Only 10% of products are cheaper in airport duty-free stores than they are online, according to new research.

Price comparison site PriceSpy found that electronics, on average, were more than £100 cheaper online than at the five airports it analysed: Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Manchester and Bristol.

It was £70 cheaper online for an iPad Pro 10.5” (512 GB) and £200 cheaper for a MacBook Pro 13” (512 GB) when compared to duty-free shops at Gatwick and Heathrow.

The Canon EOS 7D Mark II camera was £270 cheaper online but the Canon PowerShot SX540 was £10 cheaper at Heathrow, Stansted and Manchester duty-free than online.

A saving of £1.99 can be made on the Bose SoundLink Revolve online compared with duty-free shops across four of the airports but Beats by Dre Solo3 Wireless headphones were £105 more expensive at Gatwick than online.

An average saving of 35% was found online on men’s Hugo Boss Bottled Night EDT 100ml, compared with the duty-free price at Bristol, Gatwick and Heathrow. Womens’ Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream EDT 100ml cost £62.35 at World Duty Free, 26% cheaper than the £45.99 on eBay.

Olof Karp, country manager for PriceSpy UK & Ireland, said: “These findings challenge the age-old belief that duty-free shopping is where the biggest savings can be had. With 90% of products found cheaper on online stores through PriceSpy, it’s clear that online shopping has truly disrupted the duty-free model.”

“If looking for holiday purchases, travellers should do their research before arriving at the airport. Especially for electronics where savings can be substantial. If the saving is significant, shoppers may decide the product can wait until after their holiday.”

Tom Church, founder of money saving community, added: “When you’re in the airport, you expect duty-free to be cheaper. That’s the point of it – no tax! Yet once again, Brits are being duped by a marketing ploy. Retailers whack prices up so discounts look bigger than they should be.

“It’s something we’ve all felt. Duty-free prices just don’t seem that cheap, despite all the posters and advertising. You were right. Duty-free prices are a rip off. And is it much of a surprise when there is no other option at the airport?”

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