Last week, I jetted off to cloudier climes via Heathrow and, while waiting for my plane, I made a bee-line for the Duty Free.
Picking up a bargain at the airport has always been one of the perks of air travel and I usually try to buy some of the pricier cosmetics I like in the Duty-Free shop to save money.
But this time, after nabbing a pot of Bobbi Brown’s Vitamin-enriched Face Base (50ml), I was taken aback by the price.
It was still a surprisingly steep £38 (the RRP is £46.50) and I had really expected it to be cheaper. When I landed, I checked out the product online and found that I could have just ordered it from boots.com for £34.87.
And that got me thinking. Is it still worth bothering with Duty Free?
Well, according to the price and product comparison site PriceSpy it seems that, on the whole, it isn’t any more.
According to the comparison site PriceSpy it seems that, Duty Free isn’t worth it anymore
The website reviewed 324 products in Duty-Free stores across three airports in seven product categories and found a huge 74 per cent of items were actually cheaper online, with shoppers able to save up to 14 per cent by buying online rather than at the airport. In hard cash, that’s an average saving of £7.10 per purchase.
If you are thinking of treating yourself to discounted designer sunglasses in the Duty-Free shop this summer, think again. The research, carried out in May, found that you will make an average saving of 20 per cent if you buy the same sunnies from a website rather than at the airport.
For example, Ray-Ban RB3025 Aviators are £121.65 Duty Free but £75.50 online, saving you 37.9 per cent.
You won’t have the luxury of trying on lots of different pairs in front of a mirror like you do at the airport if you buy online, so you need to know what you want — or take the time to try several pairs on at home and send back the ones you don’t want. But there’s no doubt there are better savings to be had.
Many toiletries are also cheaper online than they are in the Duty-Free shops. One example is the Hugo Boss Bottle Deodorant Stick, 75ml, which would set you back £18.50 Duty Free, but online, you could find it 40 per cent cheaper at £10.95.
Even watches are often better value online, with an average saving of 4 per cent. That may not sound much, but given the pricey designer watches you find at Duty Free, a 4 per cent saving can make quite a difference.
The biggest saving in the study was on the Diesel Mr Daddy 2.0 DZ7312, which averages £275.75 Duty Free, but is an impressive £146.87 cheaper online.
It’s not just the online outlets that often beat the Duty-Free store prices either. One of my MoneyMagpie team found that even a massive Toblerone, that symbol of airport shops, is actually cheaper in her local supermarket.
Bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin is £20.99 at the airport, a pound cheaper than the supermarket
She found that the 360g bar is £6.50 at the airport while you can pick it up for a fiver at Sainsbury’s and Tesco. She was also disappointed to find that a 50ml bottle of Emporio Armani Diamonds fragrance for men was £39.50 at the airport but £32.50 at Boots.
There are still a few bargains to be had in Duty Free. The PriceSpy study found that 26 per cent of products reviewed were either the same or cheaper at the Duty-Free shops as they were online, particularly when it came to perfumes and make-up.
Estee Lauder Dream Dusk eau de parfum 100ml cost £105.80 at the airport while the cheapest price online was £130. Tom Ford Eye Color Quad 10g cost £56.65 airside compared with the cheapest price online of £67.85, and GHD Max Styler hair straighteners cost £149.15 at the Duty Free while the cheapest price online was £169. Meanwhile, we found that a 70cl bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin is £20.99 at the airport, a pound cheaper than the £22 it costs at a supermarket.
What I would suggest is that if you are planning on buying something specific at the airport to save money, research it online before you get there.
Use comparison sites like PriceSpy, Kelkoo or Idealo as well as Amazon and even eBay to see what the best price would be online, and then see if the Duty-Free section can better it when you get to the airport.
Oh, and just to clarify the boarding pass issue: when you buy from the Duty-Free shops you do need to show your boarding pass so they can reclaim the VAT on the items you have bought.
However, in the other non-Duty Free shops in the airport (Boots, WHSmith etc) you don’t have to show your boarding pass. If they ask for it you can just politely refuse as it simply allows them to reclaim VAT charged on the goods you buy, a saving which they have not passed on to you.
You do get the VAT removed at the Duty-Free shops so it’s mandatory to hand over your boarding pass to the staff at the counters there.
How to get your paws on a free holiday
Calling all animal lovers. How do you fancy a free staycation in a luxury property of your choice in return for looking after someone else’s pet?
Many homeowners don’t want to leave their pets in kennels, so there is a growing market for responsible house-sitters to look after a holidaymaker’s house and their animals while they are away. House-sitters don’t get paid. What you get is a lovely home from home for free in return for providing pet care for the owner.
This is a budget holiday with bells on. And some canny house-sitters even manage to make money by renting out their own homes on Airbnb while they are house-sitting elsewhere. If this sounds appealing, trustedhousesitters.com is looking for you.
The agency charge an annual fee of between £99 to £199 for sitters to join their list. This then gives you access to all the properties available, both in the UK and around the world.
Homeowners seeking someone to house-sit and look after their pets also pay a fee to join which covers the costs of vetting and getting references for all the sitters. But Daily Mail readers who want to be sitters, or who have a home they want looked after, can get an exclusive 25 per cent discount with the code JAS25THS which lasts until 9pm on July 16, 2022.
Of course, you don’t have to join an agency to do this work. If you have friends and relations looking for house-sitters to stay with their pets while they’re away, let them know that you’re available. If it goes well, they could recommend you to their friends and after a while you will have a regular clientele.
Be a bargain barista and get your caffeine for less
Fancy a free coffee? There are quite a few ways to get one. Sign up for a free IKEA family card and get a free tea or coffee in their cafes any time from Monday-Friday. Subscribe to the Benugo newsletter (benugo.com/ newsletter) and you get a free coffee and a present on your birthday too.
There are quite a few ways to get free or cheap coffee for those caffeine lovers out there
Join Caffe Nero’s loyalty scheme and after every nine stamps you get for buying coffee, you get a free one. (Use code ‘GIVEME5’ when you download its app and get 5 stamps).
The first month of Pret A Manger’s coffee subscription service is £12.50, half the normal price. This gets you five coffees a day, seven days a week, which is 8 pence a cup for the discounted period, after which you can cancel your subscription. See pret.co.uk.
You can mop up a free activity pass
Get a free 12-month National Activity Pass to get one member of your family into hundreds of entertainment venues such as Gulliver’s Theme Parks, Go Ape and Puddleducks, for nothing when you buy a product worth at least £8.49 from Vileda.
Find a list of qualifying products at goodcleanfun.vileda.co.uk/faqs.
Until September 24, 2022.
Have you got any old paper £20 or £50 notes? Check out old handbags, money boxes and down the sides of the sofa for stray notes.
If you find any, either spend them next time you’re at the supermarket or take them to your bank to have them exchanged for the new polymer version. You have just three months to use the old ones before they are mothballed on September 30.