Duty Free Fragrances & Cosmetics
Duty Free fragrances and cosmetics are by far the biggest product category, and you’ll easily find them online.
If you usually buy these products in upscale department stores or specialty retailers, Duty Free will generally be a good deal for you. But if you’re a real bargain hunter or tend to buy them online, you should definitely do some research. The direct links in the Find Duty Free Online section will help you check Duty Free prices and availability beforehand.
A few months ago, I carried out an informal price survey of 12 major airports who show their assortments online. They also had a reasonably (but not completely) common assortment of Duty Free fragrances by major brand, name, and size. The following is their rough ranking by average fragrance prices:
Remember these are averages, and the price ranking may vary for particular products. My biggest surprise was Heathrow. It was significantly cheaper than the next cheapest airport (Sydney) and generally pretty competitive with online retailers. Another surprise was the poor fragrance assortment at Hong Kong Airport, so I didn’t even bother including it here.
At many airports, you can buy fragrances and cosmetics on arrival, either Duty Free or Tax Discounted, and some airport retailers offer home delivery as well.
Airline assortments are much smaller than airports and there’s little commonality, so it’s very difficult to make meaningful comparisons. In the few cases where there is commonality, airline prices are broadly in line with airports. Some airlines also offer home delivery.