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Duty Free Shopping: Is It Worth Your Money?

Easily learn how to save money by following these shopping tips.

By: Denisse Shawntel Tan | December 16, 2017
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shopping tips in Duty Duty Free

Duty Free shops can be seen in different countries as well.


Frequent travelers and tourists might be familiar with Duty Free. The shop’s yellow-clad interiors can be seen in areas that are often flocked by international tourists such as airports, border towns, and cruise ships. These shops have been around for years and they still lure travelers all over with their distinct premise.

Duty Free shops enable tourists and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) to buy “duty” or tax-free items such as liquor, cigarettes, chocolates, perfumes, cosmetics, and clothes, but in return, they must bring the item/s along as they leave the country.

The currency exchange rates and the location of a Duty Free store affect the prices of its items. In some cases, airports located in developing countries have less expensive items compared to a Duty Free store in, say, Paris or London. Buying from Duty Free in a country with a weaker exchange rate than in your home country would be more ideal than buying in a country with a high exchange rate.

For example, if an American tourist heads to a country where the U.S. dollar is favored in the currency exchange rate, it means that they can have better savings.

While it may sound enticing to go on a shopping spree in Duty Free due to the exclusion of tax fees, do shoppers really get better deals? Experts say that it depends on the items the shoppers choose to buy as well as the country where the Duty Free is located.

At the least, it is advisable that shoppers do a bit of research on items beforehand. Doing a preliminary assessment enables the buyers to compare the prices to see if an item is indeed a bargain or more expensive compared to buying at local malls.

Duty Free also puts up price lists that are updated occasionally on its website for easier comparison and convenience. To see how different each price is at the countries that they are planning to visit, tourists can check the Duty Free Addict website. The website contains price comparisons and blogs about Duty Free outlets worldwide.


What To Buy and What Not To Buy


Just because Duty Free can offer lower prices, it doesn’t necessarily reflect on the entirety of the items available. There are certain goods that some analysts and experts consider to be fairly great deals while some are not.

Usually, items that are usually covered with “sintax” are rarely a bad deal at airports. These items include liquors, tobaccos, and packs of cigarettes. Depending on the brand, some perfume or clothing items can be purchased with a significant discount. The ladies would also have to reconsider buying luxury fragrances, cosmetics, sunglasses, and clothes, as these items are hit and miss.

Cosmetic products may come as a bargain if the items are not typically on sale and in a larger quantity. Makeup gift packages can also contain a combination of hard-to-find items. Designer handbags, watches, and sunglasses also vary in price—oftentimes, these are much expensive at airports than at boutiques. Souvenirs like keychains, T-shirts, and mugs with the name of the visited country also tend to be more expensive.

Pasalubong (souvenir) favorites such as chocolates, biscuits, and nuts are few of the basic items that can be found in Duty Free stores. As tempting as it is to splurge on delicious sweet treats, experts consider these items to be impractical purchases, as these products are available also in supermarkets, thus making them less of a bargain.

Items that are a specialty or are exclusively made in a particular country also tend to be offered at lower prices. For example, some consider Swiss chocolates as a great deal because these chocolates are usually taxed in areas outside Switzerland. Canadian maple products would also be cheaper at a Duty Free shop.

Electronics such as phones and similar items will be cheaper in some countries in Asia or the USA, but before buying, make sure that it would be usable in your home country. Some phones that are purchased overseas need adaptors to be charged, while some only work on different network frequencies. Online shops can also be a huge competition when it comes to bargaining prices for electronic devices. The cheap price might also be because of the outdated units and older models.

In addition, it would be to the advantage of shoppers if they know the price per ounce or pack, or any unit of sale that the product employs. This is because in comparison to normal stores, Duty Free sells more varied items than the average shop. Another thing to keep in mind is that not all Duty Free shops carry the same brands or items. The array of cosmetics, bags, watches, sunglasses, and fragrances may vary, while cigarettes, sweets, and liquors may be similar in some.

In general, when it comes to Duty Free shopping, the best strategy is to research in advance regarding the typical prices of the items in local stores then compare it to the pricing in the Duty Free stores at the country you are planning to visit. That way, tourists can score better deals and avoid buying things compulsively.
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About Denisse Shawntel Tan
Denisse Tan is currently a work in progress: she’s an aspiring writer, artist, and fashion designer! She’s trying to figure out how to manage her time in achieving all of her goals while also taking in life as humanly possible. Aside from art, she’s a big fan of the color pink, disco music, Bratz dolls, and Genshin Impact. By age 35, she plans to travel to New York City 🗽.
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Disclaimer: All articles in the Consumers Magazine of Yoorekka are for general information and entertainment purposes only. Although careful research has been made in writing them, Yoorekka does not make any warranty about the completeness and accuracy of all information presented in our articles. Our content is not intended to be used in place of legal, medical, or any professional advice.
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