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Duty free vs. online shopping: Should I buy online or on board?

After decades of enjoying the reputation of offering consumers the best prices on everything from cosmetics and accessories to technology, the air travel duty-free retail sector is now facing stiff competition from online shopping.

A new study reveals that online shopping has triggered a shift in power to the consumer over the last 15 years, particularly when it comes to finding low prices.

The research found that:

  • Cosmetics and Technology can be cheaper at the airport, but not always. A passenger looking to buy the GoPRO Hero 4 would pay £49.00 more in the Heathrow Boutique than they would online.
  • Passengers heading to sunny destinations should certainly not wait for the airport shop to purchase sunglasses. All of the sample prices taken for sunglasses in the study were considerably more expensive at the airport.
  • Aftershaves bought in the Easyjet on board Boutique & Bistro were found to be almost identical in price when compared with online deals.
  • Perfumes were found to be slightly cheaper online than on board.

Although in the case of fragrances the price difference is nominal, it is certainly still vital that consumers are made aware of the illusion surrounding tax-free prices. While there are deals to be had as part of the air travel experience, customers should remain astute and never assume that duty free guarantees the lowest price.

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