Average savings of over a fifth (22%) when shopping online compared to duty free
Watches are the only product found to be cheaper in duty free
Convenience and cost of online shopping now trumps the “nostalgia” of duty free shopping
PriceSpy has analysed duty free prices at three of the UK’s major airports - London Heathrow, Manchester Airport, Birmingham Airport - to understand if travellers can pick up any genuine bargains before they board the plane.
Hint: most of the time, travellers are better off shopping ahead of time!
Not only is it more often cheaper to shop online, the savings that can be found online compared to duty free are much bigger than duty free vs online. Based on the analysis of 75 different products, only watches were - on average - cheaper to buy from duty free.
Biggest savings can be found on make-up, with products over a third (34%) cheaper online compared to duty free
Sunglasses almost a third (32%) cheaper online than in duty free, with savings of over £50 on Burberry and Tom Ford sunglasses
Significant savings on perfume (24%, on average), on brands including Chloé, Guerlain, Cartier
Liisa Matinvesi-Bassett, UK country manager at PriceSpy, comments on the study: “The concept of duty free being the best place to snap up luxury items is, in a lot of ways, pure nostalgia. Before the days of online shopping, holidaymakers would excitedly look forward to the bargains they’d pick up before they boarded the plane. Now, however, that’s far from reality."
“The speed, convenience and - indeed - cost of shopping online now trumps this nostalgia.”
Of the 30 individual perfumes analysed, 20 were cheaper online - with an average saving of £19.50 (24%)
e.g. Ralph Lauren Polo Red EDT 125ml was found to be 53% cheaper on PriceSpy than in duty free: £38.99 compared to £83.45
Overall, the average price of a perfume in duty free was £72.32 compared to £64.21 on PriceSpy
Of the ten skincare products analysed, nine were cheaper online - with average saving of £3.90 (7%)
e.g. Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Body Cream 240ml was 29% cheaper on PriceSpy than in duty free: £29.25 compared to £41.20
Overall, the average price of skincare in duty free was £57.12 compared to £53.64 on PriceSpy
Of the ten pieces of make-up analysed, nine were cheaper online - with an average saving of £8.11 (34%)
e.g. bareMinerals Original Foundation SPF15 8g was found to be almost two-thirds (64%) cheaper on PriceSpy than in duty free: £9.79 compared to £27.25
Overall, the average price of make-up in duty free was £24.06 compared to £17.04 on PriceSpy
Of the ten toiletries analysed, six were cheaper online - with an average saving of £5.14 (26%)
e.g. L'Occitane Verbena Shower Gel 250ml was found to be 10% cheaper on PriceSpy than in duty free: £13.57 compared to £15.05
Overall, the average price of toiletries in duty free was £19.87 compared to £17.04 on PriceSpy
Of the five pairs of sunglasses analysed, four were cheaper online - with an average saving of £45.56 (32%)
e.g. Burberry Emily was found to be 18% cheaper on PriceSpy than in duty free: £139.99 compared to £170
Overall, the average price of a pair of sunglasses in duty free was £144.33 compared to £109.05 on PriceSpy
Of the five electronic items analysed, four were cheaper online - with an average saving of £6.53 (6%)
e.g. GHD Curve was 7% cheaper on PriceSpy compared to duty free: £115.99 compared to £124.15
Overall, the average price of electronics in duty free was £100.65 compared to £96.83 on PriceSpy
Of the five watches analysed, three were cheaper in duty free - with an average saving of £38.90 (21%)
e.g. Tissot T126.010.36.013.00 was found to be a fifth (20%) cheaper in duty free than on PriceSpy: £325 compared to £390
Overall, the average price of a watch online was £188.59, compared to £183.17 in duty free
Whilst average savings to be found online remain significantly higher than duty free for the second year running, there has been a slight increase in the savings in duty free.
Liisa concludes: “For travellers, these findings should be a reminder to avoid last-minute, impulse buying at the airport. Instead, people would be wise to write out their holiday shopping wishlist well before their holiday begins and do some smart price comparison to see if items are cheaper at the airport or online.”
To further help shoppers save money, and to navigate commonly held beliefs about shopping trends and marketing tactics, PriceSpy has compiled a guide alerting shoppers to sneaky sales tactics that retailers often use to entice shoppers.
In addition, this article gives the lowdown on when to buy - and when not to buy - certain products, based on their prices throughout the year.
Notes to editors
To produce this report, PriceSpy looked at seven product categories on the World Duty Free (DUFRY) websites for London Heathrow, Birmingham and Manchester airports. For each item, we compared the price on the World Duty Free websites with the price listed on PriceSpy. We then took an average of these prices to see where shoppers are - on the whole - most likely to get the best price.
*costs and product availability correct between 3rd - 10th May 2023
PriceSpy is a comprehensive price and product comparison service used by millions of consumers every month. It helps consumers find, discover, research and compare products. Since the business first started in 2002, its main objective has been to help consumers make better purchasing decisions. PriceSpy does this by collecting and sharing honest, transparent information about retail shops, products and prices. PriceSpy has well over 700 000 indexed products, sold by more than six thousand shops. PriceSpy is part of Schibsted and is located in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, France and the United Kingdom. The PriceSpy app is available to download for free, via the App Store and Google Play.