Price Differences in Europe
Shopping around may pay
The price comparison concerns a selection of textile and cosmetic products and is not representative for any other sector.
It was observed that there are no outlets of the selected retail chains in Bulgaria. In other countries like for instance Slovenia, Hungary, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta not all of the companies have established their branch offices. In few other cases the companies provided slightly different product range and only some but not all items could be compared. For example in France, some of the selected products were not available at the time and could not be taken into account.
Nevertheless, the results of the price comparison survey demonstrate quite clearly that shopping for the above selected range of products in some countries is cheaper than in others.
Portugal represents good value for money
For the selected range of products shopping in Portugal is cheaper than the European average. Jeans of H&M or Zara are, for example, on average 10 Euro cheaper in Portugal than for instance in Finland, Italy, Austria, Ireland or Luxemburg. The price of cosmetic products is on average 3 EUR lower than in other countries.
The Scandinavian Countries
Concerning the selected range of products Scandinavian countries (Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden) appeared to be more expensive than the rest of Europe. In Sweden, however, the prices of H&M were below the average and Body Shop was more expensive than the average in other countries.
H&M: Prices of H&M textile products in Sweden are relatively low. On the other hand, prices of H&M in Sweden’s neighbouring countries, like for instance Norway, are well above the European price level.
C&A: In Slovakia, the price of C&A Jeans was significantly higher (43 Euro) than for instance in Austria where the cost of the same product is 29 Euro. Overall the price level of C&A in Slovakia is above the European average.
Body Shop: Majority of cosmetic products were relatively expensive for example in Sweden. In Belgium, Luxemburg, Ireland or Austria they were on average 2 to 3 Euro more expensive than comparable products in Germany.
It transpires from the survey that varying prices in participating countries do not in all cases mean that one country is more expensive than the other. For example the selected men’s range jeans in Zara outlets in Ireland are more expensive than in UK but other Zara items such as for instance blazer in women’s range are cheaper in Ireland than the same product in UK. It shows that there are opportunities for consumers shopping across borders but the price differences for specific products are not always representative for the market in general.
Euro Countries – Non Euro Countries
In the countries outside Euro zone price differences are more significant than in countries with Euro. In Hungary, Czech Republic, Denmark, Norway or Great Britain prices differ more from the average-prices in Europe than the prices within the Euro zone (except Portugal).
The survey also shows that prices in the new Member States of the EU are the same or even higher than the European average. In contrary to what might have been assumed earlier, consumers there pay on average the same or even higher cost for the same product (within the selected range of goods) despite significantly lower income per capita.
- Within the most European Countries differences in price-level are marginal. Exception: Portugal and some Scandinavian countries.
- In the new Member States of the EU the selected range of consumer products is on the average European level.
- Prices within the Non Euro zone deflect more from the average prices in Europe than inside the Euro zone.
The survey very evidently shows that there are price differences between Member States that are likely to remain in the near future. Shopping around still pays dividends and therefore consumers should feel free to explore the opportunities that the internal market offers. With the growth of e-commerce and the development of Europe-wide consumer legislation it is now easier than ever to compare prices across the European Union and avail of the best bargains with confidence.
Luxemburg, Dublin, Vienna, 10th of July 2009