Duty Free the new luxury shopping

Duty Free shopping used to be about purchasing your favourite perfume or bringing back affordable spirits and cigarettes from the States. These days, you will find the same luxury of Bond Street at Heathrow airport, and the new terminal 5 shopping experience may even top what we currently know as airport retailing. Fashion houses ranging from Chanel to Hermes; from Burberry to Gucci are available in Heathrow’s duty free shopping centres. With the opening of Terminal 5 in 2008, airport shopping is set to become a whole new experience with an upscale Harrods rumoured to open, and other high end boutiques fighting for retail space to capture the lucrative pound of pre-flight shopping.

Retailers know the idiosyncrasies of airport customers. Boredom, ample time to catch a flight, waiting for that delayed plane to touch down – all valid reasons to browse the latest designer collections and pick up a little trinket before boarding a flight. And retailers know how to target their customers and market their products- airport shoppers are not in the habit of buying suits, coats or heavy stereo equipment. Rather, the latest iPod nano or a Missoni bikini will do nicely.

Reiss is opening its first Heathrow boutique at Terminal 3 next week, targeting those transatlantic customers with enticing product to make the waiting time go by. And that is exactly what defines the joys of tax free shopping. What was once about rummaging through cut-price sunglasses and bottles of spf sun protection, is now about purchasing the latest Mulberry Roxanne or Tom Ford shades with a little discount.

For those who fly frequently, spending time at airports can be exhausting and boring. At least at Heathrow, the heady mix of shops and brands will keep our minds – and purses – occupied pre those dreaded long-haul flights. But only until you board the plane.

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