Duty free shopping?

Does anyone ever buy overpriced perfumes, cigarettes, metrosexual jewellery and assorted knick knacks on planes these days? I’d love to know. The ever-smiling cabin staff push the trolleys to and fro along the aisles but no-one seems to get out their credit card. Of course, this strange ceremony dates back to the days when there were genuine bargains to be had and differing tax rates between countries made it all worthwhile but maybe life has moved on?

Looking north, there’s still brisk business to be made on the megaferries that serve the Scandinavian countries. Many even call at Mariehamn on the island of Aland, conveniently sited between Finland and Sweden, to sell cut price drink to the over-taxed Nordic peoples. People in the trade who ought to know advise me to go there to watch the taciturn Finns at play.

Does anyone buy this stuff at airports either? It’s tempting to pick up a bottle of booze to enjoy with your mates if you’re holidaying in a country with high taxes on alcohol or (whisper it gently) somewhere like Dubai but margin-cutting supermarkets mean there are much better deals at home, Duty free does not mean profit free and it’s odd how many of the prices of Marlboro or Clinique are resolutely the same in any country, airside or not. I’d love to know the profit margins on this stuff.

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