We’ve all heard the expression ‘rip off Britain’. You only have to spend a couple of weeks outside my home country to realize just how shockingly overpriced goods and services are. With taxes as high as the UK and not including a health service or trash collection, and significantly higher prices for everyday items, whilst the UK is expensive, I sometimes wonder if shopkeepers in Ireland are just plucking random large numbers out of the air. The recession seems to have woken the locals up to their ludicrously bad deal, and the current exchange rates mean that for the first time ever people are heading all the way to Northern Ireland if they want to do some serious shopping. Getting by unemployed in Ireland is a primary concern for an ever-growing fraction of the population right now, and without substantial savings I’m thinking it would be damn near impossible. I’m incredibly relieved I have my language classes!
Just to give an idea of the extent of dissatisfaction, I’ve copied down a couple of quotes from the papers today:
‘Ireland is 51% more expensive than prices for the same items than the UK’ (Survey by the Irish times, 28th January 2009).
‘When the economy was booming and we were all getting overcharged by greedy businesses, we were told by our unsympathetic government to ‘shop around’. Well guess what, that’s what people are doing now. I sympathize with people losing their jobs, but I can’t afford to pay over the odds just to prop up someone else’s business. They won’t help me pay my mortgage, will they? (Dublin Metro’s ‘letters to the editor’, 28th January 2009).
‘So, I’d better stop going on holiday and shopping online, then? We’re in the throes of an economic depression, and our government has one duty of care and responsibility and that’s to Irish citizens. Are we getting that care when we can purchase the exact same products in the North but for a fraction of the price? No. Why would we shop in the north to save money? Because we are forced to given the circumstances we are placed in by our Government. Is it unpatriotic? Not in the slightest – it’s survival. (Dublin Metro’s ‘letters to the editor’, 28th January 2009).
(The latter two are in response to the Irish government’s request that citizens show patriotism by not heading over the border to do their shopping).
You get the idea. Dublin, basically, is a rip off, and now that people can’t afford to pay anymore they’re getting more and more angry.
Some examples of prices: (these are just random items that I can find two prices for)….
1 Litre of Milk
Ireland – 1.38 Euro = 128p
UK – 86p.
330ml can of Coca Cola
Ireland – 0.99 Euro = 92p
UK – 60p
‘Yorkie’ chocolate bar –
Ireland – 0.90 Euro = 83p
UK – 55p
Ireland – 2 Euros = 185p
UK – 138p
Another thing I’ve noticed is that it’s extremely rare for anything in Ireland to cost less than 1 Euro. Even the cheap shops here are 2 Euro shops, not Euro shops. Amazing. Whilst the exchange rate does have some effect on these prices (it is at quite a low), the Irish ones would still be significantly more expensive in most cases even before the exchange rate changes.
One thing I’ve learnt from teaching businessmen is how they take advantage of the financial system. For example, companies are very quick to put retail prices up when commodity prices rise, but few would even contemplate dropping them again when the prices drop. I realize now is not the time to complain about large profit margins, but with the fluctuations in things like petrol prices (and their effects on the profit margins of pretty much everyone), someone, somewhere’s making a huge amount of money.
Anyway, I just felt like expressing how extortionate Ireland actually is, because it really adds up, and it does start to grate on you. Rip off Britain? True, but it’s nothing compared to Ireland.
I’ll get back to life next time!