Stena Line Onboard Spend Up Over 400% in Duty Free Shops

By: Steven Tarbox
STENA ESTRID departing Dublin for Holyhead. Copyright © Voyager ShipSpotting.
STENA ESTRID departing Dublin for Holyhead. Copyright © Voyager ShipSpotting.

Ferry Passengers Take Advantage of Discounts After Travel Restrictions Lifted

Stena Line says that duty free shopping is helping the ferry giant get back on course.  The Swedish company has reported a four fold increase on spending per passenger in its onboard shops during August on its two routes between Wales and Ireland versus pre-pandemic levels.

Since the UK left the EU at the start of the year, ferry operators have been able to offer duty free shopping onboard on routes between the UK and EU. 

STENA EUROPE, October 2019. Copyright © Scott Mackey.
STENA EUROPE. Copyright © Scott Mackey.

Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, August was the first month when full non-essential and tourist travel was permitted between Ireland and Britain. While travel restrictions were still in place, the company refitted its onboard shops to increase space for duty free goods.

NIFS understands that Stena is also exploring the possibility of creating larger shops onboard STENA ESTRID and STENA ADVENTURER.

Paul Grant, Stena Line’s Irish Sea Trade Director commented:

“Like most travel businesses we have experienced a very difficult time over the last 18 months, but now as our passengers start to return in large numbers, we are delighted to be in a position to offer them the added benefit of duty-free shopping on our ships for the first time in over 20 years.  Our expanded onboard shops now offer a great range of items from spirits to jewellery, fragrances to electrics, some at over 50% cheaper than high street prices.”,c3424068

Huge Potential

Stena Line offers two ferry routes between Ireland and Wales; Dublin – Holyhead and Rosslare – Fishguard. According to the company, these early sales figures show that duty free has huge potential to help the travel industry bounce back after the pandemic.  Competitor Irish Ferries also offers duty free onboard its Dublin – Holyhead and Rosslare – Pembroke routes.

Discounts of up to 50% are available on a range of famous brands in the Stena Line shops.  Prices on offer currently include a 1l bottle of Jameson for as little as £15; 1L of bottle of Hendricks gin only £21 and two 1l bottles of Absolut Vodka for £16.  Stena is able to offer these prices due to its buying power through fellow Stena-owned company R&F Travel Retail – one of the largest travel retail suppliers in Europe.

The duty free shop onboard STENA ESTRID.  Image: © Steven Tarbox.
The duty free shop onboard STENA ESTRID. Image: © Steven Tarbox.

Stena Line and R&F also recently opened a shoreside duty free shop at Holyhead. This allows car passengers travelling to Ireland to purchase beer and wine in bulk and load it into their car before boarding the ferry.  A similar shop is also planned for Fishguard.  These shoreside shops are for the exclusive use of Stena Line passengers.

The company has also reintroduced non-landing duty free trips. On these passengers make a return trip, but stay onboard the ferry throughout. Further information is available here.

Please note that the UK and Ireland permit different amounts of duty free goods to be brought into their countries. Information on individual duty free allowances is available from Stena Line here.

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