Christmas shopping cheaper in North

CHRISTMAS cheer is cheaper in Northern Ireland, according to a price survey carried out by a consumer watchdog body.

The European Consumer Centre in Dublin carried out a price comparison between Argos stores in Britain, the North and the Republic. Despite the hefty exchange rate where €1 will buy you 70p sterling, Argos in Northern Ireland was up to 20% cheaper for certain items.

The survey of 21 popular Christmas presents found consumers could save anything from €3 to €25 on items such as espresso machines, cameras and bed linen. Not one of the surveyed items was more expensive.

Savings included:

€24.71 on a chrome deluxe espresso maker.

€20 on a Canon Sureshot 80U camera.

€14.29 on a Carlton trolley suitcase.

€11.43 on both a Kenwood food processor and a Philips ultra slim DVD player.

Buying seasonal items such as a 1.8m Christmas tree, outdoor icicle lights and a singing Christmas doormat in the North will cost you 99.96, but 122.97 in the Republic a saving of €23.01.

Manager of the European Consumer Centre (ECC) in Dublin, Tina Leonard, said even a small survey like this showed that money could be saved by shopping across the Border.

"The results indicate that with or without VAT, Argos UK is cheaper than Argos in the Republic. The survey reveals that prices are cheaper in Britain and Northern Ireland, even taking into consideration the exchange rate.

"The net benefit to the shopper is that by saving on buying Christmas presents they have more money to spend on themselves," she said.

Argos said its prices vary because it had to factor in transport costs, distribution costs as well as exchange rates.

Ms Leonard also wanted to make consumers aware of the assistance ECC Dublin provides for anyone unhappy with the product or service they buy in another European country.

"We want consumers to know that if they have problems with the products they purchase in another member State they can turn to us for assistance," she said.

The European Consumer Centre in Dublin can be contacted at 01 809 0600 or www.eccdublin.ie

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