Irish pay second highest prices for goods in EU

Country highest for alcohol and tobacco and 20% above average for hotels and restaurants, report finds

Irish consumers pay the second highest prices for goods and services in the EU — 25% higher than the EU average.

A report from Eurostat shows that Ireland was above the EU average for every price category surveyed in 2016 and topped the league table in others.

For example, Ireland was highest in the EU for the price of alcohol and tobacco — 75% higher than the EU average. This is mainly down to excise duty on alcohol and the regular price hikes in tobacco in the budget.

The next highest prices were in the UK (62% higher) followed by the three Nordic EU countries — Finland (35%), Sweden (28%), and Denmark (22%).

The lowest alcohol and tobacco is found in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, and Romania.

Ireland is third highest for “personal transport equipment” such as cars, motorbikes, and bicycles — some 11% above the EU average. Denmark was highest, followed by the Netherlands, while the Czech Republic was the lowest.

Ireland was joint fifth highest (with Finland) for food and non-alcoholic beverages — some 20% above the EU average. The highest prices were recorded in Denmark, followed by Sweden, Austria, and Luxembourg. The lowest prices were found in Poland and Romania.

Restaurants and hotel prices were 20% above the EU average in Ireland in 2016 and fourth highest in the EU. Prices were most expensive in Denmark, Sweden, and Finland.

The least expensive parts of the EU to eat in a restaurant or stay in a hotel were Bulgaria, Romania, and the Czech Republic.

Irish consumers are also paying some 12% over the EU average for clothing.

Overall, Denmark had the highest consumer prices in the EU and was the most expensive country for electronic equipment, groceries, transport, and restaurants. Bulgaria and Romania are the cheapest countries in the EU for consumer prices.

However, the EU overall, including Ireland, remains a lot cheaper than some non-EU European countries, with Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway outstripping EU prices by a significant margin.

The report comes as recent figures from the Central Statistics Office showed that, by volume, all but two categories of retail sales posted gains in April from a year earlier and also rose in the three months February to end of April.

Overall, the volume of retail sales was up 6.4% in the year in April and was up 6% in the three-month period, if motor trades are excluded.

The figures continue to show car sales have fallen, as the effects of sterling’s crash against the euro since last summer’s Brexit vote continues to bite.

In May, sales in the motor trades fell 3.7% from April 2016 and dropped by over 4% in the year in the three months to the end of April.

The CSO data showed that sales of furniture and lighting, which soared by almost 21% from a year earlier, and sales at department stores, which climbed by 8.3%, had the largest gains.

Furniture and lighting and electrical goods were the top two performers in the three months to the end of April from the same period in 2016.


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