Whatever happened to Duty-Free shops in Australia?
November 29, 2009 8:44 PM   Subscribe

Whatever happened to Duty-Free shops in Sydney?

I live in Sydney and I haven't been overseas for quite a while. When it came time to think about duty-free shopping, it seemed that the concept had disappeared from the city centre. Most of the shops, particularly the big Downtown in Pitt Street, were gone, and it seemed like the only place you could buy duty-free stuff was at the airport.

Is this something to do with the GST? Some plot by Macquarie Airports?
posted by AmbroseChapel to Travel & Transportation around Sydney, Australia (12 answers total)
Mostly the old duty-free shops made a difference because of the levels of sales tax on various items. Now that that has generally been replaced by the GST, the saving is not so much. Thus: duty free retreated to the airports. You can still get a nice saving on your scotch and ciggies - because they have all sorts of other taxes, but just about everything else maxes out at the GST level.
posted by pompomtom at 8:54 PM on November 29, 2009

Also for cameras and whatnot, Ted's Camera House et al still offer duty free discounts, you may have to ask for it. The difference isn't so big these days.
posted by smoke at 9:03 PM on November 29, 2009

Note also that there are also strange regulations these days about carrying certain items on international flights these days (booze, in particular, but this might apply to other things as well).

Returning via Bangkok one time recently, I tried to buy some duty free whisky there, only to be told that it was against the law for it to be carried into Australian airspace. I was told the same rule applies to other countries (eg US, UK, maybe Canada etc) but not to all.

So, for some items you can *only* buy them upon returning to Sydney (or maybe on the plane as well, I'm not sure).

That kind of thing must also eat into the profitability & viability of the old duty free stores.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:24 PM on November 29, 2009

The Tourist Refund Scheme contributed, since you can buy goods at any shop and apply for a GST refund at the airport.
posted by cwhitfcd at 10:11 PM on November 29, 2009

The alcohol rule is that alcohol that is purchased prior to the security checkpoint cannot be taken aboard the plane. The reason they are often reluctant to sell you duty free alcohol at foreign ports is that it is likely that it will be taken off you if you have a transit stop at any other international airport. It's usually (I say usually, because the case noted above is probably an exception) not a problem though if it is the final international leg of the trip, as the same rules don't apply to domestic flights (except those operating from the international terminal).

And yes, duty-free stores are largely redundant, with the exception of alcohol and cigarettes - everything else they sell can be purchased cheaper from regular shops. As cwhitfcd pointed out, you are probably better of purchasing small electronic goods from JB HiFi (for example), and then getting the refund at the airport on the TRS.
posted by ryanbryan at 12:41 AM on November 30, 2009

There's a duty free shop (DFS) in the CBD on George Street near the Rocks. Perhaps they've just relocated to where the potential for sales is greater.
posted by qwip at 2:30 AM on November 30, 2009

I am trying to understand how this works. How is it possible to have a duty-free shop in the middle of town? Do they deliver your goods to you as you are leaving the country?
posted by grouse at 6:48 AM on November 30, 2009

They (used to at least) put it in a sealed bag that you presented on your way out at the airport.

Now with the much more sensible Tourist Refund Scheme, you just show the item(s) you purcased (over $300 in one transaction) and the reciept after passing through customs, and you get the GST back.
posted by trialex at 4:16 PM on November 30, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everyone.

trialex: how exactly do you get the GST back? In cash, right there?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 12:40 AM on December 1, 2009

Response by poster: By the way, I came across the somewhat insane rules about buying duty free to bring into Australia at Changi airport.

I could buy alcohol at the Duty Free Shop ... but I couldn't take it away with me.

They put it into a little bag behind the counter, gave me a ticket and told me to go and wait for my plane, someone would be along to deliver it to me after I'd been processed by the airline and was inside the gate area.

I wasn't happy about this, but, yes, shortly before we boarded, a guy came down to the gate with a little truck full of duty-free and distributed it to people.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 12:43 AM on December 1, 2009

Yes, in cash, right there (or you can have it put on a card). Of course it has to be something you can take on the plane with you though...
posted by ryanbryan at 2:20 AM on December 1, 2009

Ambrose, I had the same treatment at KL, which I thought was hilarious because the duty free shop was about 5m from the gate where they distributed it.
posted by pompomtom at 3:38 PM on December 1, 2009

« Older Help me not be a psychogirl.   |   Is it worth my while to learn Java Web Services? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.