High Dollar and More Imported Goods Limit Advantage of Duty-Free Shops in Brazil

Folha Survey Identifies Increased Purchasing Limit May Have No Practical Advantage

Amanda Lemos
São Paulo

The increased limit in duty-free shop purchases from $500 to $1,000 is worrying shopkeepers who think domestic commerce may suffer. However, for travelers, the measure may not represent such a significant change.

Right now, shopping in a duty-free shop might not be advantageous because Brazil’s domestic market has more imported products, and the dollar value is high.

A duty-free shop in São Paulo airport (Foto Eduardo Knapp/Folhapress.MERDACO) - Folhapress

The change in the limit was a personal request of President Jair Bolsonaro. The new limit takes effect on January 1, 2020.

A survey by Folha used the new limit to assess the impact of the measure. Prices were compared for 15 products offered online at Duty Free Dufry and Magazine Luiza, Fast Shop, Pão de Açucar, Sephora, and in-store brands.

Of the 15 products evaluated, five were cheaper in Brazilian stores. Of the ten most expensive products here, nine had a price difference of less than 10%.

A few years ago, the duty-free shop was a privileged point of sale, where it was possible to buy luxury brands and unique products, without similar national products, for good prices compared to the quality they offered.

Today, items previously restricted to duty-free shops are even found in street supermarkets. Luxury brands have also opened their own stores in the country. 

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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