Air travel has never been so accessible with the introduction of budget airlines. Budget airlines have made travelling more affordable and millions of low to middle class passengers are taking advantage of the lower fares. With millions of additional passengers flooding through airports all around the world, this has sparked an increase in duty-free shopping. Duty-free shopping is popular with air travellers as they can kill some time at the terminal while they wait for their flight. More importantly, duty-free goods are usually cheaper and passengers can snap up a bargain at the airport compared to the shops outside.
Products that can usually be found in duty-free shops worldwide include items that are heavily taxed in those particular countries. These are items like luxury goods, cigarettes, alcohol, cosmetics, electronics, confectionary, perfume and cologne. As these products are dutiable when imported into most countries, they are cheaper when purchased in the duty-free section of airports compared to shops outside. Travellers know this, hence, you will always see a line of shoppers queuing up to purchase chocolates, alcohol or perfume before they leave or when they return form their travels. They also purchase perfumes for their mothers and sisters after quickly checking on the best perfumes for women.
Governments are also wary of this price difference and therefore, they impose strict limits on the quantity of duty-free items that can be purchased and brought into their countries. Popular items such as hand bags, cigarettes, alcohol, perfume and cologne have quantity and value limits imposed and each passenger is only allowed to carry a certain quantity into the country. This limit varies from country to country and the information is readily available at all airports so that passengers do not purchase more perfume or alcohol than they are allowed.
Although the price of items in duty-free are cheaper, they are no longer as cheap as they once were. It seems like the operators of these duty-free shops are profiteering from the rise in air travel and keeping prices higher than they should. Keeping all else equal, the price of the same perfume or cologne should be similar in Singapore and Australia. However, some research has found that not to be the case. In many instances, prices of alcohol, chocolates and cosmetics seem to vary by some margin when various airports are compared. This leaves travellers confused as they are being charged different prices at different airports.
This leaves a big question as to how much duty-free retailers are taking advantage of the pricing inequality to line their own pockets. However, with the advancement in technology and the Internet, travellers can now find out how much the same bottle of perfume or cologne costs in London when considering whether to buy it in Bangkok. With the click of the button, the price of alcohol, cosmetics and chocolates can be obtained as most duty-free shops have an online shop with prices clearly shown. With this, travellers should be able to make an informed decision whether to purchase a perfume or cologne that they want before they depart or when they arrive in a particular country.