Passionate about shopping? Stop over at Dubai International Airport

Written by admin on November 21, 2008 – 12:56 pm -

If you want to buy it all without paying sales taxes, the Dubai International Airport is the place to go. It may be a bit of a trek for Americans. But some people will do anything for a bargain. Even though many are reeling from the overt signs of a recession, it clearly isn’t impacting others who are born to shop and have the funds.

Dubai Duty Free is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Terminal 3 has just opened and there’s even more glitz. Now travelers can shop in an 8,000-square-meter (86,000 square-foot) mega-retail-center.  Stores are open around the clock. Retailers from every part of the world have outlets. It’s considered one (or probably the) best duty-free shopping complex anywhere in the world.

When the shopping center opened its doors in December 1983, the first year’s revenues were only $20 million. Last year, Dubai Duty Free registered record sales of $880 million — 24 percent more than the previous year.  There were 19 million transactions; that’s an average of 52,000 sales per day, an increase of 18% over 2006.

Dubai Duty Free is projecting another record year in 2008. Mid-year sales were approximately 30 percent ahead of last year’s. If the trend continues, spending will top $537 million.

There’s not even a need for dedicated shoppers to leave the airport since (depending on your nationality), 96-hour visas are available. Visitors holding a US passport can stay up to 60 days. The Dubai International Hotel is right in the complex. But there are many other nicer hotels within 15 minutes of the airport/shopping heaven. Choose from any and every type of decor and be surrounded by all types of places to eat, including way too many Starbucks, McDonalds and KFC outlets. But unless you have an outbound ticket, airport security isn’t going to let you enter the premises.

There’s little to nothing you can’t buy in Dubai Airport Duty Free. It’s a global shopping center, where all you need to do is garner the strength to go from store to store and hand over your credit card. Do alert your card provider before setting out on this foray.  You might want to increase your credit limit.

It’s hard to get close to the counters where gold jewelry and bullion are being sold. Many people would rather invest in it than put their money in stocks and bonds. Buyers will find a lot of 22-carat gold. It’s the closest to the pure metal and you’re charged according to weight. If it’s more than a chain, you’ll most probably pay extra for the design. Keep in mind it’s softer and more fragile than lower grades of gold.

From electronics, to watches, designer clothes, crystal, liquor, cigars and cigarettes, the selection doesn’t stop. There is also gourmet food from various parts of the world including Beluga caviar.

The Dubai Airport is one airport where it’s better to allow extra time before and after a flight. Even for non-shoppers, the airport makes for some of the best people watching in the world. People are everywhere — shopping (of course), lining the corridors, sleeping and surfing the Internet on free WiFi (within limitations because many sites are banned and the government does not permit downloading Skype).

Lucky passengers might win a lottery since there are all types of promotions to entice people to return and return again. Many people from neighboring areas fly in and out of the airport to quench their shopping desires. When it comes to marketing, this group knows how to move merchandise and has won more than 150 awards from industry and media entities.

There are plan for future development in the event people are worried there won’t be enough to buy. And you’re thinking how to cut down on gift buying this Christmas. Some people aren’t faced with the same dilemma.

Karen Fawcett is president of BonjourParis.

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Posted in Consumer Traveler |