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Baggage blow to duty-free shops
- Ban on liquids hits business

New Delhi, Aug. 12: The ban on carrying liquids and cosmetics into the aircraft is likely to hit sales at duty-free shops in international airports.

“Yes, there has certainly been a dip in the duty-free business at airports. But it is premature to quantify its implications as it has just been a day,” Narendra Kriplani, vice president-ITDC, (duty-free trade) said.

It is the departure terminal where business will be affected the most since a passenger cannot board the aircraft with anything liquid or carry anything more than what has been cleared through security check.

However, there is no restriction on purchase at the arrival terminal.

Kriplani said 60-65 per cent of the business on an average takes place at the departure terminal.

India has 51 duty-free shops spread across 16 international airports at Calcutta, Delhi, Mumbai, Guwahati, Trichi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Cochin, Goa, Lucknow, Amritsar, Thiruvananthapuram and Calicut.

Delhi and Mumbai generate the maximum business. Delhi has 14 duty-free shops — 10 at departure and four at arrival — and Mumbai 10 — eight at departure and two at arrival.

Duty-free shops at 10 airports are managed by the state-owned ITDC. The rest are run by private operators Flamingo and Alpha Retail.

Last year, duty-free shops generated revenue of $60 million. This year, business is expected to be in excess of $65 million, said Kriplani.

“Security is any day paramount than generating business. It is the decision of government of India and we will respect it,” he said.

The restriction will also hit business at airports in Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Heathrow, which are considered a shoppers’ paradise.

Airlines have started issuing advisories saying beverages purchased at airports must be consumed before boarding the flight.

Several countries have begun imposing a strict ban on carrying liquids, perfumes, gels and cosmetics even in checked-in luggage, forcing retailers to down shutters in the departure lounge area.

It is learnt that Body Shop has already shut down half its airport stores. Many more are likely to follow suit.

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