Duty-free shopping: will it really save you money?

Duty-free shopping: will it really save you money?

Duty-free shopping can actually work out pricier than the high street, our research shows.

lovemoney staff

Motoring and Travel

lovemoney staff
Updated on 8 July 2016

Duty-free shopping is as much a part of the holiday experience as airport drinks and worrying you’ve lost your passport.

Every year millions of us pick up some discounted treats as we pass through the airport, safe in the financially-savvy knowledge that we’re saving a fortune and getting a great deal. But are we really?

With holiday season in full swing (can somebody tell the weather please?) research conducted by LoveMONEY has revealed many of those ‘bargains’ you’re picking up at the airport could in fact be cheaper elsewhere.

Going on holiday? Don't forget the travel insurance!


Booze is one of the most common purchases at the airport, but while you may think you’re saving a packet on your favourite tipple you could be better off going to your local supermarket instead.

For example, at the time of writing, you could get a litre bottle of Malibu white rum for £16.49 at duty free, but at Tesco’s you can pick up the same bottle for just £13.

If it’s that summer favourite Pimm's you’re after, you could actually save £2 by heading to Morrisons instead of getting it at the airport (duty-free price £12, Morrisons, £10).

And if whiskey is your poison you may think you’re onto a winner with Jameson Gold Reserve at £59.49 for 70cl at duty free, but you could actually save more than £4 at online retailer (£55.39).

Get rewarded when you shop with these credit cards


Who doesn’t like a bit of fizz? And when you’re getting it at a discount, well, what’s not to like?

That discount can be found closer to home than you might think, however.

A bottle of Bollinger Special Cuvee will set you back £41.99 at duty free, but you could save a massive £11.99 if you shop at Tesco instead where the same bottle can be bought for just £30.

If you want bubbles but Bolly isn’t your thing, how about a bottle of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs?

A 75cl bottle costs £44.99 at the airport. But why bother when you can order it from the comfort of your sofa at for a smidgen less, at £44.57.

Item         Duty-free price           Best price
Malibu white rum £16.49 £13
Pimm's £12 £10
Jameson Gold Reserve £59.49 £55.39
Bollinger Special Cuvee £41.99 £30
Ruinart Blanc de Blancs £44.99 £44.57


Of course duty free isn’t just about alcohol. Indeed, beauty products are a firm favourite amongst airport shoppers, keen to add to their make-up bags without denting their bank balances. But they may not be getting the bargain they think they’re getting.

Take Benefit Boi-ing concealer, for example. One of the cosmetic brand’s best-loved products will set you back £14.55 at duty free but just £11.72 on

Similarly, Clarins Gloss Prodige Intense Shine & Colour 02 Nude 6ml will cost you £15.35 at duty free but is more than £3 cheaper from at £12.28.


Fragrances have always been a popular choice at duty free but you could be missing out on better deals closer to home.

Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream Eau De Toilette, for example, is £42.40 for 50ml at the airport but at your local Boots you could save yourself 40p and get the same fragrance for £42.

Online retailers also offer some decent discounts. Gucci Bamboo Eau De Parfum costs £54.10 for 50ml at duty free, but if you look online you could pick it up for just £45.90 from

Designer gear

As designer wear can come with a pretty hefty price tag, it’s not surprising shoppers will jump at the chance to get it tax free.

But you could actually save more shopping elsewhere and paying the tax.

Ray-Ban Wayfarer Folding Classic sunglasses are priced at £112.50 at duty free, for example, while the same pair are just £77 at

Meanwhile a Fiorelli Taylor Crossbody Nautical handbag might seem like a good deal at £45.80 but there’s a better one to be had in Debenhams where the same bag costs just £44.

Going on holiday? Don't forget the travel insurance!

This article is regularly updated

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