Duty-free cosmetics sales are back from the brink

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Retailing, Cosmetics, Etrc

A year ago the future of duty-free sales of cosmetic products in
Europe was looking glum amid suggestions of a total sales ban, but
things are looking brighter now, according to the European Travel
Retail Council (ETRC).

The organisation says that, following the fall-out from the foiled trans-Atlantic terrorist plot, things were looking gloomy as European authorities, namely the European parliament, considered a complete ban on the sale of cosmetics products in airport retail locations. But, thanks to lobbying from the organisation and the industry as a whole, the situation has been reversed. According to the ETRC this is because it has 'proven that the airport retail is one of the most secure businesses in the world'. With cosmetic and fragrance airport retail sales now well on the road to recovery, the organisation says that there is still plenty of work to do to ensure that passengers flying in out of the EU are free to make duty-free purchases. The ETRC points out that one of the biggest challenges now facing the travel retail industry, and more specifically personal care retailers, is the fact that new explosive substances are being developed that share many properties of an ingredient contained in a range of cosmetics and toiletries - hydrogen peroxide. The big challenge is to find a machine that can detect this substance - technology European governments have recently been testing, but with no conclusive results. Another challenge that cosmetic retailers are facing is unilateral EU recognition of current aviation security rules, which more specifically involves the recognition of the rules by third countries - those outside of the EU. "It appears that unilateral third country recognition is the only way forward to facilitate third country transfer of passengers with their liquid purchases,"​ the ETRC said in a statement. In order for this to happen, the EU authorities will insist that third countries implement ICAO guidelines on liquids in hand luggage, which allow for liquid containers with a maximum capacity of 100ml. The organisation highlighted that five third countries have already made progress in getting EU approval, with Singapore described as being at an advanced stage of compliance, and Australia, Argentina and Croatia being well into the secondary stage of the approval process. Ultimately the ETRC says that it will continue to advise third countries on this process, a procedure that it aims to open up to all such countries with the co-operation of both the retail industry and respective governments.

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