Monday, 27 July 2009

Does anybody buy duty free anymore ?

Liquor, yes. Cigarettes, yes (those smokers still left). Perfumes, yes (to placate the lady). But who buys all the rest of the insanely priced goods that masquerade as duty free items in airports ?

In the good old days, flying was the prerogative of the rich, Shops at airports were built to cater to that lot who can afford all those outrageous prices. Hence the shops that sold designer clothes. Designer bags. Brand names that are unpronounceable by ordinary mortals. Prices starting from $500 plus.

Today's air traveller is a completely different animal. She's toting a backpack. It looks like airport shops haven't noticed. They are still peddling stuff that nobody buys. Changi airport doesn't need a Gucci showroom. It needs a Mustafa.

I am sitting at Suvarnabhumi airport typing this post. I can't see a single guy buying anything from those fancy shops that are all over this airport. Not clear how they are in business.

I am however in bliss. No proxies to navigate through my beloved Net Nanny. Can actually post direct on Blogger. Can even spellcheck. Can read posts without having to wait for a zillion minutes for the proxy to pipe me silly ads. Oh for the simple joys of life ....


le embrouille blogueur said...

Ensoii ...... the DF at Delhi sells more beer than anything .....well so I thought ....for the bored few who want to get hammered before the long flights to ....ummm ...States ....(so I have heard)...are there any more smokers alive to buy more ... lol

Anonymous said...

:-) Glad you got your moment of peace from your Net Nanny.
As for the duty free stores, the prices are a joke. But I am glad that most airports have pretty good bookstores. I while a lot of time in there and walk out with couple of Archies and a novel or two. :-)

A journey called Life said...

yay! on ur moment of bliss.. i just imagined a Mustafa at T3 in Changi and it seemed scary even in my imagination (the crowds that would throng that place)..
but then like u and cookie said, i really dont understand the purpose of those shops..

Satish said...

Ramesh the only good thing about Duty free is that when you are waiting the 2 to 3 hours before your flight it at least helps while away some time. Agree it is crazy in terms of price. However at least in a place like Singapore the electronic stuff is cheaper than a place like UK where even a bottle of water is about Rs 80 (and that too a small bottle). Makes you think about what you are missing in India and not complain again.

Adesh Sidhu said...

Good observation, Ramesh.

Retailers at airports did not change with the changing profile of their customers. This is so true.

Ramesh said...

@blogueur - the less said about duty free in Indian airports, the better. Even the airports in Africa are better !

@thoughtful train - Yes, book stores too. And the only airport in the world, where there isn't a book stall (until recently) was Mumbai.

@AJCL - Yes, isn't the thought of a Mustafa in T3 funny ? But come to think of it, almost every Indian visitor makes a beeline to Mustafa - make it easier for them by putting it right in Changi airport !

@Satish - Yes, they have some browsing value, but they can't make money from browsers. And yes electronics are cheaper than in Europe, but if you go to Mustafa downtown, they are cheaper still.

@Adesh - Yes retailers have not changed. Part of the problem is that rentals at airports are so ridiculous that cheaper stores can't afford to come. I think the big brands simply use this as advertising rather than as retail points

Sabareesan said...

i agree with Adesh, this often happens that luxury brands which often do not have access to directly enter a market may be spending tons of money to just get the customer eyeballs. as a kid we did not brands like sony, casio or panasonic but there were ads placed in mags strategically for info. there may be a rationale for all that spend.

Ramesh said...

@Sabareesan - Yes I can understand the advertising bit - seems a bit costly though for the number of eyeballs it hits ...

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