London Heathrow • striving for retail heaven
There’s over 48,000 sq m of retail space at London’s Heathrow Airport • that’s one hell of a lot of shopping opportunity divided between five terminals. The world’s busiest international airport and considered the hub of the aviation world, Heathrow processes over 67m passengers a year , flying to some 180 destinations. That’s an awful lot of people to satisfy.The quality and extent of the retail shopping offer has become increasingly important to owner BAA over the years (some would say to the detriment of seating and relaxing areas) and nowhere is this more true than in Terminal 5 which aims to roll Oxford Street, Bond Street and Knightsbridge all into one impressive shopping adventure. There is no denying that T5 has set a new standard in retail, having made a point of urging retailers to ‘think differently’ when it came to store design, exclusive offers and special services. Only you can decide if they have achieved that or not…do let us know.
You’ll only be travelling through T5, though, if you happen to be on the appropriate BA flight; otherwise you’ll find yourself in one of the other four terminals • all of which also offer excellent shopping facilities, though some are easier to navigate than others.
Core duty and tax free goods at all terminals are sold by World Duty Free (which also operates outlets in Arrivals at all terminals) and these stores • in single size • dominate each retail space. If you’re exchanging US$ or Euros, or other currency linked to these, the UK is a great value destination currently and, taking off duty and tax in the airport, makes for some excellent bargains. (Don’t forget, the UK is one of the most highly taxed nations in the Western world.) While you will find well known liquor brands and fragrances heavily discounted on the UK high street these days (particularly through supermarkets and at seasonal times such as Christmas), ask yourself if you really want to spend your UK leisure/vacation time trundling round Tesco’s or SuperDrug?
If you are travelling from Heathrow to a destination within the EU, you cannot buy duty-free goods (liquor and tobacco), but you can buy tax-free goods because the retailer absorbs the 20% high street VAT. In the case of fragrances, savings on UK High Street prices can be far higher than 15% though, up to 40% off selected brands. You can still buy certain wines and champagne and a range of spirits brands if you are travelling intra-EU, with savings offered of up to 20%.
If you are eligible to buy duty-free, then expect to save up to 50% on some spirits brands • look out for the Green label.
Particularly worth looking out for are travel retail exclusives in just about all categories • confectionery formats that you can’t buy outside the airport, exclusive sets from bands such as YSL, Estee Lauder and Clinique, unique designs of watches and sunglasses.
But shopping at Heathrow these days is about much, much more than core duty and tax free products. Here’s a quick summary for each terminal (shopping at terminals is not interchangeable…you can only shop from the terminal you are departing from once airside). Please note that LHR is constantly under development and shops may have changed from those mentioned here.
Heathrow Terminal 1 is now closed.
Duty Free Shopping Terminal 2
See our shopping guide to the new Heathrow Terminal 2 http://www.taxfreetravel.com/london-heathrow-terminal-2/
Duty Free Shopping Terminal 3
See our 2014 shopping guide: Heathrow Terminal 3
Dominated by long haul flights to the Middle and Far East in one direction and US/Canada in the other; T3 is one of the most recently refurbished terminals and is striking from the offset. Departures is one of the more difficult to navigate, however. World Duty Free Dominates as you enter with a massive store dissected by a walkway taking you to the back of the hall (plus another outlet on the far side). A big Starbucks and seating area divides the rest of the hall, with shops all around it, and then further shops are found at the back, from where you head to the Gates. Still there’s plenty to look at if you’ve the time • around 40 retail offers. For those on a budget, looking is probably all you’ll do beyond the WDF stores. This is a highly designer-led group of shops including Armani, Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Hermes, Ferragamo, Cartier, Versace and more. Nice to window-shop, though, and there are some great bargains to be had during sale time at Kurt Geiger.
Duty Free Shopping Terminal 4
A long corridor of shops is divided into two sections by WDF outlets attached to which are Harrods stores where you can pick up your designer treats from brands including Cartier, Dunhill, Ferragamo, Versace, Zegna, Loewe & Valentino and Mont Blanc. T4 has the smallest range of shops at Heathrow, but it’s a good core range • Chocolate Box, Sunglass Hut, Tie Rack, Thomas Pink, Dixons, HMV, Escada and • as at all terminals • WH Smith and Boots.Terminal 4 London’s Heathrow Airport international departure lounge also boasts a Gamucci e-cigarette lounge open from 5AM to 11.30PM.
Duty Free Shopping Terminal 5
See our new 2014 shopping guide: Heathrow Terminal 5
The pinnacle of shopping at Heathrow • some might say within Europe or beyond – T5 strives to offer retail heaven, combining the best of the UK high street with the world’s most prestigious brands. Here retail, restaurant/bar and seating areas are more in harmony than other terminals • ‘on your way, not in your way’ as BAA says. The only negative is that with some 50 retail outlets spread over two main floors, navigating your way around can be tricky, unless you’ve got loads of time. T5 is all about firsts. The first European airport store for Tiffany & Co; the first European store for Coach; the first PC World airport store (including an Apple concession); the first Prada store in Europe and the US. It also boasts exclusive ‘one-offs’ at Paul Smith’s Globe; Blink, where you can get your eyebrows shaped (this can be booked in advance); a Clinique Experience counter in the WDF beauty area; great interactive displays in the Dixons…and…and…and….the list goes on. You cannot say it is anything but impressive.
London Heathrow facts
Airlines: Around 90 • all scheduled
Terminals 5; Operating Terminals 4.
Runways: 2 (Government approval has been given for a third)
Total retail space: 48,000 sq m
Tax Free Travel Airport Parking Guide: Heathrow Parking
Tax Free Travel guides to other UK & Channel Island airports …..