Most airline travellers buy their alcoholic beverages from duty free chops. Few compare prices before making a purchase decision, automatically believing that duty free prices are considerably lower than L.C.B.O well known to mark up according to government mandated formulae.
Practically all provincial governments tax all alcoholic beverages excessively, and regard their respective distribution agencies revenue streams to enrich their treasuries. Alberta is a notable exception, although government revenues from the free distribution have not suffered. Consumers’ gained a lot by the new system.
Recently I compared prices of Armenian brandy in Yerevan retail, and at duty free at the airport. To my surprise, duty free was more expensive than retail. Duty free is not profit free. To that one must also add excessive airport retail space rents.
Recently a Scottish distiller closed its duty free shop at Heathrow in London due to excessive rent.
The same is true in Vienna’s Schwechat airport where liquor is more expensive than at the L C B O, and that is something very unusual.
If you are fling out of Managua (Nicaragua), purchase your liquor in town and don’t bother with duty free shops at the airport. When flying out of Toronto the only thing you might want to consider is a bottle of icewine, but even such a purchase is questionable.
Duty free shops on land between two countries offer reasonable prices. You can even save a few dollars in the process if you select judiciously.
Fine wines are seldom, if ever sold in duty free shops.
When buying spirits, pay attention to the bottle size. Many distillers offer 1-litre bottles whereas retail size of the same brand is almost always 750 ml.
The duty free shop between Ontario and New York State charges for Stolinichnaya vodka (1L) $ 14.99, Smirnoff (1L) the same price, whereas L C B O sells 750ml bottles of same brands for $ 22.55. In all airports duty free prices are almost as high as retail in Ontario, and generally not worth considering.
Recently returning from Ukraine via Frankfurt am Main at the airport a bottle of Bacardi 8 year old rum was priced at 18.00 Euros which translates to $ 28.80 Canadian and was not even properly stored.