Duty-free shopping used to be a perk of international travel, with travellers benefitting from cheaply priced alcohol, perfumes and cigarettes. The arrival of GST was just one of a number of measures which changed all that, coupled with online shopping and bargain-basement retailers, bringing down the price of luxury goods. If you’ve departed on an international flight from a major Australian airport, however, you’ll know that duty free shops are still very much alive as, after you’ve cleared security and immigration you’re forced to walk through them to reach your gate. And there’s the ability, and convenience, of being able to buy duty-free on your way back into Australia. But is duty free shopping still value for money, whether you’re buying at home or overseas? There are a number of factors to consider when considering a duty-free purchase. First, you should do your research at home, checking the prices of alcohol on offer in local bottle shops, or the price of your favourite perfume from a discount shop such as Priceline, or from discount online reseller. Next, check exchange rates for the country you’re travelling to, as you will only get value for money when it’s favourable. You can also jump on the comparison wagon by visiting the website, www.thedutyfreepriceguide.com, which compares duty-free prices from around the globe from airport shops and airlines.
If you’re after electronics, you can buy what you’re after from any retailer in Australia and claim back the GST at the airport on departure. This can save you money, and also you’ll also benefit from a local warranty if the product is faulty or fails within. Alcohol is more of a problem duty-free wise due to security and the limits imposed on liquids in carry-on bags. If you are flying long haul to Europe via Asia or the Middle East, for example, it’s still a bit of a grey area whether your duty free purchased in Sydney will be confiscated in transit. When it comes to purchasing alcohol to bring back to Australia, however, you may well bag a better bargain buying locally in some countries, and packing the goods into your check-in luggage. In Spain, for example, premium spirits including tequila and gin are more than half the price of those at home if purchased in a supermarket. Be sure to pack any bottles carefully, make sure you won’t be over weight limits, and as you won’t be buying one litre duty-free sizes, make sure you are not over the quota you’re allowed to bring home with you.