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Sun, sea and tax free: Brits splurging up to £8 billion* a year at the airport

Sun, sea and tax free: Brits splurging up to £8 billion* a year at the airport

When it comes to our summer holidays we’re well acquainted with splashing our cash*, but new research has revealed the Brits are blowing billions of pounds of their holiday budget before they’ve even stepped foot on the plane.

Currency provider International Currency Exchange (ICE) polled 1000 Brits on their airport spending habits and found that the average traveller splashes out nearly £40 (£39.85) a time on Duty Free purchases including food, alcohol and items they’ve forgotten to pack.

With over 208,299,314 passengers travelling in the first three quarters** of 2016 alone, this means a potential £8.3 billion spent every year in Duty Free at airports across the UK, with travellers stocking up on everything from perfume and aftershave, to gifts for family.

This is despite the fact that, since 1999, products in the airport are only exempt from excise duty (Duty Free) to those travelling to destinations outside the European Union. [1]

The top 10 items Brits are buying in airports are:

  1. Food – 35%
  2. Alcohol – 29%
  3. Perfume/aftershave – 28%
  4. Cigarettes – 20%
  5. Gifts for family/friends – 12%
  6. Makeup – 12%
  7. Skincare -11%
  8. Clothing – 9%
  9. Electronics – 8%
  10. Forgotten items e.g. phone charger – 7%

When it comes to killing time at the airport it seems that shopping still tops our list of preferred pastimes, with nearly a third of travellers (30%) spending at least half an hour browsing Duty Free, and 36% earmarking at least £50 of their holiday budget for an airport splurge.

Interestingly, travellers seem to stick to the necessities when jetting out of the country, with forgotten items including phone chargers and adapters (25%), perfume/aftershave (23%) and food (18%) topping the list of items purchased, whereas those flying back to the UK splash their cash on luxuries including alcohol (27%), gifts (22%) and cigarettes (18%).

The research also looked at the best airports in the UK for Duty Free shopping, with nearly a third of travellers (30%) voting London Heathrow as their preferred airport, closely followed by Manchester (23%).

**The top 5 airports for Duty Free shopping are:

  1. London Heathrow – 30%
  2. Manchester – 23%
  3. London Gatwick – 16%
  4. London Stansted- 8%
  5. Glasgow – 4%

Speaking about the findings, ICE CEO Koko Sarkari said:

“We’re all in the mood to treat ourselves when we’re jetting off on holiday, or relaxed after a break away, but when it comes to making the most of your shopping budget or leftover currency at the end of your trip, it’s important to understand the rules surrounding Duty Free and the items on which you might be able to get the best deal.

“For some items, you might be best shopping around when you get home, whereas others will be much cheaper at the airport, so it’s always best to check ahead of time on the potential savings you could make.”

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