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Duty-free shopping is shopping at designated shops within the airport and at certain specified downtown shops. The advantage of shopping here is the lower prices as these goods are tax-free. The outlets are usually well-stocked with the latest products from liquor to cameras, perfumes to clothes, etc.

Asian duty-free shops are popular with travelers. Singapore and Hong Kong have long been recognized as trend-setters with low pricing and a great variety of merchandise which entices even the casual window shopper. Outlets in these two places show innovation in displaying items in fashion to suit the changing tastes of consumers. In other words, putting on sale the 'in-things'. Other duty-free shops in the Asian region follow these changing patterns. There are numerous contemporary duty-free shops not only at the arrival, departure and transit lounges of airports but also in the cities. Some of the extraordinary downtown duty-free shops are in the Lotte and Shilla Hotels in Seoul, the marble- floored Duty Free Shoppers store in Kowloon's Chinachem Golden Plaza or the new Le Classique outlet in Singapore. Tourists can buy almost everywhere they go and can also make purchases on arrival at many airports, like Singapore's Changi which claims to have 'the lowest prices in the region'. Several factors have contributed to Asia's success in duty-free shops. The expanding population, relaxed travel restrictions, increased purchasing power, efficient customer service and very attractive goods ensure continued growth and popularity. Now, duty-free shops not only stock liquor and tobacco but also include gifts and accessories. These sales account for over half of all duty-free goods sold in the region.

This duty-free business is also flourishing in South American countries like Brazil and Argentina. These countries encourage expansion to boost free enterprise and raise foreign exchange. Luxury ocean liners even sell duty-free goods while cruising the Caribbean. Well-equipped ferries operate on the Rio de la Plato separating Uruguay and Argentina, and downtown outlets are multiplying from Manaus on the Amazon to the Caribbean coast. Stores are thriving at many borders, especially on the United States-Mexico frontier. Then there are the duty-free shops in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the Middle East. With aggressive marketing, these shops have recorded increased sales in recent years.

An important factor in the success of some of these duty-free shops at airports is that they allow transit passengers to browse through the airport during stopovers. Improvements to duty-free shops are seen as a major opportunity to win more customers, both from the tourist industry and the traveling public. Operators plan to continue to promote duty-free shopping because it increases business and tourism. Some Middle East operators are constantly refurbishing their outlets to cater to Europeans traveling between Europe and Asia. The emphasis is on new and varied ranges of merchandise. Perfumes, fashion wear, jewelry, watches, computer keyboards, telephone-answering machines and cordless telephones are available. 'We are fastidiously studying the requirements of passengers beyond the traditional liquor, cigarette and perfume product areas,' states Mr. Arul Salam, a businessman.

In spite of all that has been said of duty-free shops, there have been numerous adverse reports from regular travelers. They claim that not all goods sold at the duty-free shops are cheap. The travelers complain that sometimes perfumes, chocolates, clothes and accessories are exorbitantly priced. Yet, they are labeled in big, bright and illuminated words 'DUTY-FREE'. The same articles can be picked up at other stores in town for perhaps as much as one-third the price. This is something that consumers have a right to complain about. When duty-free shop owners are questioned regarding this matter, they reply that rentals of premises are high and this inevitably causes the prices to rocket.

'Then, why should these goods be displayed at the airport and why are they termed duty-free? This is totally misleading and should be stopped,' protests Mrs. Beatrice Wells.

'The only good thing, if at all, is the beautiful and luxurious display of goods, the wall-to-wall carpeting and the generally expensive atmosphere,' states Mr. Bates, another regular traveler. He goes on to comment that the high-priced goods are meant for the affluent travelers. Such people, being 'rich' are only too happy to shop in such a luxurious atmosphere and pay more for the comfort. They are usually wealthy businessmen and their wives.

Mrs. Wells agrees with this wholeheartedly. 'Yes. I see it that way too.' She adds that the salespersons themselves are often 'condescending'. They will observe a traveler and if they think him rich, will he over-friendly. For the ordinary traveler, no service or courtesy is shown. 'How dare they behave in this way?' she exclaims in exasperation. Mrs. Wells is also distressed that some airports have very large premises for duty-free shops. In such places, the customers have to walk a long distance to check out items for sale. This is tiring and inconvenient. Perhaps something can be done about this but with expansion, the situation is unlikely to improve drastically. Finally, Mrs. Wells complains that the most intolerable feature of duty-free shops is the inconsistent pricing. The same item may vary greatly in price in different outlets. 'This is ridiculous!' she cries as she leaves to write a letter to a newspaper on her grievances of duty-free shops.

   
  Questions
   
      From paragraph 1 :
  1. (a) (i) From the evidence in this paragraph, give one distinctive feature of duty-free shopping.
      (ii) Why do consumers go for duty-free shopping ?
       
    (b) From paragraph 2 :
      (i) Why are Singapore and Hong Kong well-known for duty-free shopping ? Give two reasons and number them 1 and 2.
      (ii) What phrase in this paragraph tells us that Singapore and Hong Kong duty-free shops are up-to-date with the latest products ?
       
    (c) Why does the author describe these outlets ( in paragraph 2 ) as extraordinary ?
       
    (d) Traditional duty-free shops concentrated on liquor and tobacco. Quote one sentence from paragraph two to show otherwise.
       
    (e) Give two factors which have resulted in increased sales in the duty-free shops in Asia.
       
  2. (a) (i) merchandise;  (ii) in-things  (iii) expanding;   (iv) flourishing;   (v) constantly;   (vi) numerous;   (vii) termed;   (viii) affluent
       
      From paragraph 3
    (b) 'Luxury ocean liners even sell duty-free goods while cruising the Caribbean.' The sentence implies that
      (i) ships sell duty-free goods.
      (ii) duty-free goods are sold at every possible opportunity.
      (iii) tourists enjoy cruising and looking at duty-free goods.
      Write down the number of the statement you think is correct.
       
    (c) Which two factors would be examples of aggressive marketing ?
      (i) better seats in the stores.
      (ii) lower prices.
      (iii) attractive displays.
      (iv) salespersons who speak one language
      (v) limited choice of goods.
      Write down the two factors.
       
    (d) Give two words from this paragraph that show that duty-free goods are in demand. Number your answers 1 and 2.
       
      From paragraph 4
  3. (a) '... they allow transit passengers to browse through the airport during stopovers.'
      (i) Suggest a reason for the action of the transit passengers
      (ii) What are the transit passengers likely to do ?
       
    (b) ' ... improvements to duty-free shops ... '
      ' ... are constantly refurbishing their outlets.'
      With reference to the words in italics, suggest two aims of the duty-free operations.
       
      From paragraph 5
    (c) What word in paragraph 5 indicates that the author has negative comments about duty-free shops ?
       
    (d) ' ... causes the prices to rocket ... '
      Replace the word in italics with another word or phrase of similar meaning.
       
      From paragraph 7
    (e) 'The only good thing, if at all, is the beautiful and luxurious display of goods, ... ' How do you think Mr. Bates feels about this luxurious setting ?
       
      from paragraph 8
    (f) (i) 'How dare they behave in this way ?' she exclaims in exasperation. What emotion does Mrs. Wells show ? Give two words. Number your answers 1 and 2.
      (ii) What does Mrs. Wells hope to achieve by writing a letter to the press ? Mention two possible aims of Mrs. Wells.
       
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  Answers
       
  1. (a) (i) The goods are tax-free-cheaper/priced lower.
      (ii) To get cheaper goods
       
    (b) (i) 1. They are trend-setters. 2. They offer a variety of merchandise/goods or The prices are low.
      (ii) 'Trend-setters'/show innovation in displaying items to suit changing tastes of consumers/putting on sale the 'in-thing'.
       
    (c) They have a wide variety/array of goods. or They have distinctive decor with that special touch of class. or both.
       
    (d) 'Now, duty-free shops not only stock liquor and tobacco' ... 'These sales account for over half of all duty-free goods sold in the region.'
       
    (e) expanding population / relaxed travel restrictions / increased purchasing power / efficient customer service / very attractive goods ( any 2 )
       
  2. (a) (i) goods; (ii) fashionable;   (iii) growing;   (iv) thriving;   (v) continuously;   (vi) many;   (vii) called;   (viii) wealthy
       
    (b) No. (ii)
       
    (c) (ii) lower prices (iii) attractive displays
       
    (d) 1. multiplying  2. increased
       
  3. (a) (i) to kill time/ to look for things to buy / have a lot of time during stopovers.
      (ii) They are likely to buy goods.
       
    (b) to attract more customers
      to get increased sales
       
    (c) 'adverse'
       
    (d) shoot up/ increase/escalate/ rise
       
    (e) He was not happy with it./ He was sarcastic/ critical/resentful.
       
    (f) (i)1. anger 2. distress/exasperation
      (ii) She hopes to draw the attention of the public to the high-priced goods at some duty-free shops. / She hopes that the governemtn would look into the matter./ She wants to air her grievances. / She wants to make known to the public that some salespersons are rude. ( any 2 )
           
 
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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