Duty Free Shops, Are They Worth the Visit?

duty-free-shopDuty-free shops at airports all promote great bargains, but are they actually?

To be honest, I like duty free shops; they are a great place to kill time during layovers but I had determined many years ago that duty free shops seldom offer real value.

High priced impulse items such as electronics and perfume are not really duty-free; if you are in the market for these types of items, try online or visit discount stores. At times you will find items sold in bulk; break down the prices by unit to see if it’s really a good deal.

On the plus side, if you are a connoisseur of hard-to-find wines, spirits or specialty items from their countries of origin, they could be worth the investment.  For example, Schnapps from Germany, wines from France, Neuhaus Chocolates from Brusselsor Hédiard Goose Foie Gras from Paris.

In Europe, you do have a bonus when shopping at Duty Free shops in airports and ports because they are also tax-free shops. This means you are spared the value added tax or V.A.T., (a type of sales tax) that would be included in the price of goods sold elsewhere in the European Union. You could save between 5 and 25 percent, depending on the country.

I would suggest you don’t buy liquids unless you’re on the way out of the airport or have cleared security.  They could be confiscated when you board even thought you bought them at the airport!

If you are inclined to purchase at a duty free in a airport or port you are planning to visit, do your homework ahead of time!

Most duty-free operations have catalogs online that actually allow you to compare prices. I would recommend looking for savings of at least 20 percent off a competitive online price to make your purchase worthwhile.

One last piece of advice, know what and how much you are allowed to bring home.  It would be a shame to find a treasure only to have it confiscated when you arrive back to your homeland.

Hope this helps

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