DFDS Brings New Era Of Duty Free Shopping to Dunkirk Port

By: Gary Andrews
DFDS Dunkerque Terminal. Image: DFDS.
DFDS Dunkerque Terminal. Image: DFDS.

Leading Danish ferry operator DFDS will open a new Duty-Free Store at Dunkirk on 4 October 2021.

Created at a cost of €290,000, the 700sqm shop is located in the passenger terminal, right in front of the passenger car and freight traffic waiting lanes. This allows easy transit of bulky items to passenger vehicles.

As a result of Brexit when the UK left the EU on 1 January 2021, duty free shopping on the cross-channel ferry routes returned, with a new look that reflects the changing face of retail at sea.

Changes to regulations mean that British passengers now do not have to pay duty or other taxes on a variety of products on board, leading to substantial savings compared to UK High Street prices. 

CÔTE D'OPALE at Dover. Image: Matt Sudders.
CÔTE D’OPALE at Dover. Image: Matt Sudders.

Steve Newbery, Commercial Onboard Director, DFDS UK Ferry Routes, said:

“We need to educate the passenger where there are real savings to be had. Perfume is already our biggest sales category but spirits, wines, beers and new categories like electronics will feature heavily. We have had to change till systems and ranges of products. Back in 1999 the Channel business suffered a huge drop after the end of duty free and took many, many years to recover but this new opportunity combined with higher limits is a real positive for the ferry industry.”

DFDS Press Release 30 September

DFDS surveyed passenger attitudes to duty free shopping before the changes. 35% of respondents said that they didn’t know anything about the changes to duty free this year – yet 45% said that they always take advantage of it when it is available.  This represents a huge opportunity for the ferry industry.

The survey found the modern traveller expects more than the traditional offers from when duty free was last available in 1999. Perfume and cosmetics are big sellers, but new categories like handbags, sunglasses and electronics also feature heavily along with spirits, wines and beers. 

DFDS Promotional Signage. Image: DFDS
DFDS Promotional Signage. Image: DFDS

The most popular products bought by those who said they take advantage of duty-free discounts are Spirits (64%), Fragrances & Beauty (61%) and Wine (51%)​. The majority of respondents would spend between £100-£199 in a duty-free shop.

Compared to online retailers like Amazon, travellers can save 50 per cent on UK high street prices for some categories and 20 per cent on perfume, cosmetics, and electronics up to the permitted personal allowances.

Passengers travelling to Britain can bring back three crates of beer, two cases of still wine and one case of sparkling wine, or four litres of spirits without paying duties. Each member of a group or family aged over 18 is entitled to this personal allowance. More details can be read here

Growing contribution to income

The aim is for the Dunkirk duty-free shop to add DKK140m in revenue for DFDS over the next five years by supplementing the duty-free offer onboard its ships and allowing customers to make bulk purchases ashore. DFDS anticipates that the new Dunkirk shop will attract visitors to the local area and help grow tourism to the Calais and Dunkirk areas. 

DFDS’ new duty-free shop at Dunkirk has created eight new jobs in the UK and France 

A second shore-side Duty-Free shop is planned at Calais. The 1000 square metre store will be located in the new port terminal at Calais. DFDS won a tender to operate the store within the Calais Port 2015 project. This will open when the new berths come into operation, which is now expected in late October.

Duty Free Afloat

DFDS also have an extensive range of shopping on the DOVER SEAWAYS, DELFT SEAWAYS and DUNKERQUE SEWAYS on the Dover – Dunkerque route and the CÔTE DES DUNES, CÔTE DES FLANDRES and CÔTE D’OPALE on Dover – Calais.

The 1100sqm shop on the recently introduced CÔTE D’OPALE is the largest shop on any ferry sailing in UK waters offering shopping as an attraction in itself. An overview of the new ferry can be read here.

Duty-Free Shop CÔTE D'OPALE.  Image: Matt Sudders.
Duty-Free Shop CÔTE D’OPALE. Image: Matt Sudders.

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