The dumbest thing to buy at the airport

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I’m not easily shocked by the OTT prices when you buy stuff at the airport, but this example really takes the biscuit. Tim Tams are frequently held up as a prime example of how you’ll pay over the odds if you leave your gift buying for overseas friends and relatives until the last minute.

The typical supermarket price for a standard packet of Tim Tams is $3.65, and they regularly go on special for $2 a packet. The airport retail economy works differently.

At the airport, the “cheap” Tim Tams price is four regular packets for $20. That’s already 38 per cent more than the standard supermarket price. If you just want a single packet, you can expect to pay $6.30. And if you happen to pick the wrong store, you’ll occasionally see the eye-watering price of $7.47. Forget the “cute” 747 in-joke; that’s more than double the price you’d have paid if you’d stopped at the supermarket en route to the airport, even if there weren’t any specials running.




Humble Aussie classics don’t come cheap. Picture: Alamy

Humble Aussie classics don’t come cheap. Picture: AlamySource:Alamy

Tim Tams are the most visible offenders, and a frequent target of ridicule on social media. However, it turns out they’re not the only biscuits where you’ll pay a crummy price as an airport buyer.

Roaming through an airport store the other day for research purposes, I encountered a packet of Arnott’s Shapes. It’s not at all surprising to see these in among the other Australian classics on offer. The controversy a couple of years ago when Arnott’s tried to “update” the flavours highlights their status as an Aussie icon. Arnott’s was forced to reintroduce the original flavours, and then quietly retired the updated versions.

So it’s understandable someone heading overseas might decide to grab a packet of Vegemite & Cheese Shapes as a gift, or even bog-standard BBQ Shapes as emergency snacking material. But it’s not understandable when the price is $6.49 for a box. Again, more than double the $3.20 you’ll typically pay at Woolworths or Coles for the same product. Adding insult to injury, Shapes go on sale even more frequently than Tim Tams, as any supermarket catalogue dweller can attest.

Avoid paying $6.49 for a box of Shapes.

Avoid paying $6.49 for a box of Shapes.Source:istock

The bottom line is if you’re paying anything more than $2.50 a box, you’re doing food shopping wrong. And if you’re prepared to pay $6.49 for a box of Shapes at the airport, you’re quite possibly beyond help.

Look, I understand business realities. Airport store rents are high, and there’s a captive audience. But my wallet is not about to get captured. When I visit family overseas, I’ll often stock up on Tim Tams, Shapes and other local goodies. But I buy them when I see them on sale. Not only is it cheaper, it also means I can put them in my hard-cased checked baggage, where they’ll be safe from damage.

Because the only thing that’s worse than paying $6.49 for a box of Shapes is finding that the box has been crushed in the overhead luggage compartment.

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