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How do duty-free shops, and is it true in them cheap

It would be naive to believe that your purchase is advantageous because you do it in a duty-free. The price of the same product in different duty-free shops may differ in half. Skyscanner! Dispatched agents to the airports in three continents to find out where the duty-free cheaper.

Learn how to operate duty-free, or just scroll to compare prices and find out where profitable shopping - in London, Dubai or Moscow.

How does the duty-free

The essence of the duty-free shops (Duty Free) is clear from the title - they are exempt from duties and taxes. But not all, but only some, and even then not always. Most often duty-free are exempt from import duties. The reason is clear: the traveler will take away goods are abroad, so this is probably exported. In some countries, duty-free for the same reason is also exempt from VAT. A very unique case - also on excise duties.

Freeing the goods from import duty, the government wants to be sure that this product actually leaves the country. Therefore, usually the duty-free are in airports, ports and ground PPC already in the international zone, for border control. Although there are exceptions. Malaysia and Argentina, for example, duty-free shops are located not only in the departure halls, but also in the halls of arrival after border controls. And the Philippines has a "duty-free mall" and it is all in one and a half kilometers from the airport in Manila.

Globalization is not spared and duty-free. Most shops selling perfumes, cosmetics, alcohol, cigarettes and sweets belong to a handful of companies. The largest network: World Duty Free, Dufry, Gebr. Heinemann, DFS, Flemingo.

Why do prices vary from duty-free

Legitimate trade without taxes - what is not the entrepreneur's dream? It would seem that in duty-free fare everything should cost, if not a penny, then at times cheaper than in ordinary stores. But it was not there. First, the seller is not released from all taxes, but only from a part. The profit tax remains, charges for the salaries of employees remain and so on. Secondly, a reduction in the overall tax rate, say, at 15% does not necessarily lead to a decrease in the price of the goods for the same 15%. There are several reasons for this. "Prices depend on two factors: geography and currency exchange rate," explains the CEO of Generation Research, which analyzes the operation of duty-free shops. In addition, all the difference in taxes can easily "eat" fabulously expensive rent of retail space at the airport. Or the seller simply wants to earn more, using a monopoly position. The latter, by the way, succeeds with a bang: the sales volume in duty free fare of Dubai airport alone is approaching 2 billion dollars per year.

Scotch whiskey in Russia a third cheaper than in Britain.

Therefore, prices for the same goods in different airports can differ by a half or two. And you can make sure of this yourself - below we give the tables of price comparisons that the Skyscanner team collected. A good example is the website of a German firm that owns duty-free shops around the world from Austria to Australia. One and the same company, the same goods, and the prices are different. For example, our vodka Beluga, contrary to any logic in faraway Australia, costs 52 $, and in neighboring Poland - 69 $. Sometimes it comes to the point of absurdity: in the duty-free Heathrow Macallan tape costs 78 €, and in duty free Sheremetyevo - 60 €. Scotch whiskey in Russia is one-third cheaper than in Britain.

Every second article on the duty-free in Russian confidently and without reservation calls are the cheapest and most expensive country. Particularly bold edition even displays the percent of the economy. And this, of course, nonsense.

Where is the duty free is cheaper

Every second article on duty-free in Russian confidently calls the cheapest and most expensive countries. Particularly bold publications even result in an average percentage of savings. Like, in the UK, duty-free is expensive, and in Turkey, perfume costs 6,8% cheaper. And this, of course, is nonsense. Well, we will be politically correct. Not nonsense, but the "average temperature in the hospital" and an attempt to give out relative figures for absolute. Firstly, because there are many airports in Turkey, different duty-duty operators operate in them, and therefore the prices are different. Secondly, in order to talk about average prices, we must compare the same products, and in our experience the assortment in different stores coincides extremely rarely. Thirdly, in Heathrow is more expensive than where? Than in Russia, in England, in other duty-free or on Amazon? And, finally, fourth, everything depends on what you will do with the goods. Let's say you forgot to buy a souvenir. In this case it is necessary to compare with the prices in souvenir shops of the country of departure. Decided to pamper yourself with new perfume - compare with the prices of perfume at home. Want to stock up on alcohol on vacation - here you have to compare both with the country of departure, and with the destination.

Therefore, the profitability of buying in duty free should be clarified in each case. For example, you return to Moscow from Seoul and want to buy Fahrenheit toilet water. Urgently change your mind, because in Korea it costs 97 $, and in Russia - 82 $ in the first online store. Another example is cigarettes: buying them, returning to Russia, does not make any economic sense (unless you are looking to guess and buy "tasty" and "real"). But to stock up the Marlborough block before flying from Russia to Britain, where one pack costs 15 $, it's exactly worth it. The only exception is souvenirs. In most cases, at the airport, they are more expensive than even in the most tourist places in the city, from where you fly.

Compare prices of goods in duty-free shops from America to Japan

We have compiled a list of common goods - cigarettes, alcohol, sweets and perfumes - who are more likely to be found in any duty-free world. And ask colleagues to take pictures while traveling prices in airport shops. To this we added data information sites of other duty-free. And that's what came out of it (for clarity, all prices converted from local currencies into euros at the exchange rate on the day of comparison):


Compared participated liter bottles of Martini Bianco and whiskey Jack Daniel's Black Label.


We compare the prices block Marlboro Gold.


We found out how much are My Burberry perfume and eau de toilette Fahrenheit.


We compared how many faces Ferrero Rocher candies and, of course, unofficial symbol of duty free shops - in the triangular Toblerone chocolate packaging.

Definitely called the most expensive and the cheapest duty free world can not - too great dependence on a specific set of products. The study Skyscanner! Dubai and Tel Aviv often are the most expensive cities, and Berlin, Budapest and Moscow - the cheapest (relative to the average level of prices in the duty-free).

For example, we evaluated the following products:

  • Whisky Johnnie Walker Double Black, 1 liter;
  • liqueur Bailey's Irish Cream, 1 liter;
  • Toblerone chocolate in a triangular 400-gram packages;
  • set of multicolored chocolate LINDT, 500 g;
  • perfume Burberry Brit Rhythm, 90 ml;
  • perfume My Burberry, 90 ml.

It turned out that the price of a "basket" in the duty-free shops from New York to Singapore on different 25%. At the same time, it is the most expensive in Dubai, and the cheapest - in Moscow.

Official sites duty free shops

Sites with prices is only at a few tens of duty-free shops at airports. Skyscanner! Assembled links to some of them to you before departure can check the value of the goods necessary to you and decide whether favorably to buy them in duty free.

Moscow -,

London, Edinburgh, and two dozen UK airports -

New York, Washington, Miami and even 11 US airports -

Budapest, Bratislava, Sydney and three dozen airports in Austria, Germany, Italy and Norway -

Amsterdam -, Athens -, Delhi -, Dubai -, Dublin -, Copenhagen -, Montevideo -, Seoul -, Singapore -, Tel Aviv -, Tokyo -

These sites can be helpful not only to compare prices, but also to save time. In many duty-free pre-order service is there: you choose the right products online a few days before departure and at the airport just take away their purchases.

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