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Duty free rip off: airport shops charge up to 150% more for some goods

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03/07/2019
Holidaymakers who hit the duty free shops at the airport in search of a bargain could be spending up to 150 per cent more compared with shopping in normal retailers.

A study by personal finance comparison site finder.com found duty free products are on average 17 per cent more expensive than online retailers, with snacks the most overpriced category of goods.

Chocolate and sweets were around 67 per cent more expensive in duty free shops, the research found. A bag of peanut M&Ms will normally set you back £2 – but will cost you £3.75 at the airport.

Similarly, a 300g bar of Cadbury Oreo chocolate would typically cost £2, but £5 at the airport – a 150 per cent difference.

Suncare was the second most expensive category of goods at duty free with products setting you back 37 per cent more on average.

A bottle of Ultrasun Aftersun will cost you £6.31 more at duty free outlets than at other retailers – 63 per cent above the online price.

Luxury goods and alcohol

The study also found luxury goods such as sunglasses and watches come with heftier price tags at duty free.

A pair of classic Rayban Aviators, for example, would cost you £113.30 at the airport compared to £81 from an online retailer.

When it comes to alcohol, your tipple of choice will determine whether you’ll bag a bargain or get ripped off.

The study found that wine and whiskey are on average 8 per cent and 9 per cent more expensive at duty free, but all other spirits are 5 per cent cheaper at the airport compared to online prices.

However, holidaymakers can still find some good deals in duty free stores – specifically in the make-up aisle where products are 16 per cent cheaper on average than online shops. The Benefit Roller Eye Liner, for example, is £18.50 at typical retailers but £16.25 at duty free.

Jon Ostler, CEO (UK) at finder.com said: “Our research found that the average price for an item bought in duty-free was 17 per cent more than the cheapest available figures online, which included at least three products that were more than double that of the online price. Certain categories were worse than others, with every item we checked in the “Food, Sweets & Toys” section costing more at the airport.

“However, it is worth noting that duty-free can offer exclusives and products that aren’t readily available elsewhere, so the best thing to do is to research before you buy.”

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