Guide To Shopping At Airport

So you’re aware about the advantage of buying designer bags at the airports. Yes, I confess, it can be cheaper! But it’s not a secret. On this page, we’re going to provide you the general information – you know, the little things you need to know before you go shop and spree. And because each airport is unique, we will need to talk about them one by one. Now tell us, which airport will you be visiting soon:

Shopping at airport overview


Shopping at Airport

Shopping at airport can be cheaper, but not always. For example, buying at Dubai airport is more expensive than buying at Heathrow airport, despite that Dubai has a tax free policy. Different countries have different prices; so make sure you do your homework before swiping your credit card.

Duty Free is better than Tax Refund

In the European Union, it’s called VAT, which means Value Added Tax. In Singapore and Australia, its called GST, which means Goods And Services Tax. In other countries, it’s also called Sales Tax. But they’re all the same, it’s tax imposed on products.

This tax can be claimed back if you’re tourist, but usually you need to go through a process. The process depends on the country you’re in and will be explained in details if you read our tax-refund articles. But mostly, it goes something like this: you fill in a tax-refund form, gather the receipts, keep your purchases unopened, then go to the custom at the airport to get a stamp, then find the tax refund counter and get your tax back. But for this hassle, the tax refund counter will charge you a certain fee. This fee (and the whole tax refund process) can be avoided if you buy at the duty free area at the airport. That’s why Duty Free is better than Tax Refund.

Is it cheaper to buy at airport when the country has a tax free policy?

This is a common question we get, but it can be answered in a few sentences. If the country has a tax free policy, this means that the prices at the airport are usually the same. So buying in the city boutique is the same as buying at the airport. In this case, I rather want to buy at the boutique in the city, because it carries more stock!

Airport means limited stock

Airports are expensive locations and the spaces are limited. That’s why most designer boutiques are small and their stocks are limited. If it’s cheaper to buy there, then you can bet more people are doing it. So be prepared and don’t bet your whole vacation on buying cheaper at the airport. If you can find your favorite bag in the city, then buy it! The airport is a plus.

Personal Shopper at Airport?

Sometimes an airport will go for the extra mile to service their customer. Some airports provide Personal Shopper to guide you and help you go from terminal to terminal to shop at exclusive high fashion stores. One of the airports that provide this service is Heathrow.

Some boutiques you can call and they will tell you about their current stock. Sometimes you can even reserve the bag. And some SA even delivers the bag to your terminal. It all depends on the brand and their policy. But it never hurts to make a phone call, right?

  • jenny


    I’m travelling to San Francisco & i’m thinking of buying a luxury bag, my question is if I buy at the airport would they still add sales tax to my item?
    Although I know United States doesn’t do tax refund, I am wondering if there’s an exception wherein foreigners won’t have to pay sales tax if bought at the airport.

    January 27, 2020
  • TARA


    I just bought the latest Prada elektra printed in Prague last week. Prague IS definitely more expensive ! i emailed the Prada store in heathrow to understand the price and Heathrow prada store had the bag AND it was 200euro cheaper than the prada store in prague (200euro cheaper after deducting the tax in prague) ! i wasn’t flying through heathrow so i sucked it up and bought the bag in prague.

    I have bought many bags at heathrow and it saves me around 800$ cheaper when compared to US and around 200euros cheaper when compared to rest of EU !

    March 14, 2018
  • Margo


    Thanks Alex!

    January 23, 2018
  • Margo


    I am quite confused on whether to buy in the city or the airport. I will be traveling to London, Prague, Paris, Barcelona and Seville this summer. My last stop is Heathrow Airport. Am thinking of buying a Chanel purse but don’t really have any style in mind – anything available will be ok as long as it fits my needs however I would like to buy a Balenciaga small city purse …. will you advise just buying at the airport and will it be cheaper for me? Or which cities I mentioned above will be the cheapest?
    Thanks you so much for for your time!

    January 21, 2018
      • Margo


        Thanks Alex!

        January 23, 2018

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