Duty free shopping: Why perfume is a great buy

Duty free shopping: Why perfume is a great buy

No tax and me-time indulgence: No wonder international travellers are increasingly taking a moment to shop duty free perfume. 

You’ve bought your March break plane ticket, packed your bathing suit and booked your beachside cabana. Now all you have to do is write your duty free shopping list and make sure it includes a luxury fragrance or two.

“The number-one advantage to buying your perfume at the airport Duty Free store is the discounted prices; you’ll be able to avoid paying the taxes on these items,” explains Ruth Sutcliffe, the founder of The Scent Guru Group. It’s also a great opportunity to take some well-deserved me-time. There’s something special, convenient and maybe even a little decadent about wandering through the well-stocked fragrance displays.

“At home, I don’t usually go into the stores to browse fragrances,” says Sutcliffe. “Duty Free, for me, is a destination point that gives me a relief from a long day of traveling. I enjoy smelling the array of new scents introduced and they often give me a lift. I love to feel refreshed by some fragrances and often spray others that make me feel more relaxed and comfortable before I get on flight for the next leg home.”

Duty free shopping is a brisk business and as noted by the Credit Suisse, has increased by an average of 26 percent since 2009. That’s because, despite a dwindling loonie and global petrol issues, international travel is booming.

According to Travel Market Insider and the United Nations World Tourism Organization, more than 1,184 million people flew to international destinations in 2015, up 4.4% from last year. Translate that number into perfume bottle sales in Duty Free stores and no wonder luxury brands like Hermes, Chanel and Gucci are flooding store shelves at international airports where affluent travellers have the time to spritz on and shop before boarding their next plane.

“I love when I have a little extra time between flights to visit some of the boutiques and the perfumery area of the Duty Free shops to get my mind off of the computer and the schedule of flying,” affirms Sutcliffe. “The perfumery area are almost like a spa for me. I wander through the aisles, smell new launches and feel automatically refreshed.”

Here are a few key tips to navigate these tax-free fragrant aisles.

Duty free shopping tip #1: Make a list

Before you pack your bags and head to the airport, identify three to five scents you’d like to buy and take note of their in-store price tag. This will give you shopping options and a financial baseline when you’re perusing the Duty Free aisles looking for your best deal.

Duty free shopping tip #2: Opt for light, fresh eaus

If you have more than one flight and/or are travelling for more than six hours, you’re going to want a pick-me-up perfume to wear in-flight and afterwards. Look for clean and zesty citrus and floral scents, like Clinique Aromatics and Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue that will make you feel good and won’t be obtrusive to the passenger sitting next to you.

“You can purchase a four ounce (100 ml) bottle of fragrance without having it taken away by authorities at security, too,” adds Sutcliffe. Simply pop it in your purse for easy access.

Duty free shopping tip #3: Know your limit

If your sunny-side getaway vacation lasts for more than 48 hours, the Government of Canada will let you purchase and spritz up to CAD$800 worth of your favourite scents.

Duty free shopping tip #4: Pick up a second bottle

While oversized bars of Toblerone chocolate and 750 ml bottles of Grey Goose are also solid must-have items, don’t forget to add another eau to your shopping cart as a “gift to give someone at your destination point,” says Sutcliffe. “Duty Free shopping is a great way to purchase last-minute gifts for whomever you are visiting.”

Duty free favourites—and their suggested retail prices for comparison shopping

Inline_Duty free fragrance shopping

Duty free perfume shopping: Restock your classics or pick up a gorgeous scent for friends at home or away. The bonus: No tax for you.

Clinique Aromatiques Elixir EDP, $87 (100 ml), www.thebay.com
Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue EDT, $112 (100 ml), www.thebay.com
Chanel Chance EDT, $155 (100 ml), www.holtrenfrew.com
Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium, $125 (88 ml), www.sephora.com

Make sure to read our new digital magazine! The February issue is out now.

Read more:
Morocco: An aromatic adventure
Pack travel-sized perfumes
Travel the world with The Body Shop

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This article was written by

Adriana Ermter is an award-winning writer and editor. The former beauty director for FASHION magazine and editor-in-chief of Salon and of Childview magazines is a monthly columnist for Among Men Mag and has hosted beauty videos for fashionmagazine.com and contributed to Men’s FASHION, Chatelaine and chatelaine.com, Flare and flare.com, Huffington Post Canada, National Post, thekit.ca and iVillage.ca. She lives in Toronto with her very spoiled feline, Trixie-Belle, and a fantastically large perfume collection.