Is it really worth us buying Irish if it costs 66pc extra?
BUYING Irish or local boosts local businesses and jobs, but it can cost you. Just imagine for a moment that the Government ran with Ibec's budget proposal -- that children's allowance money had to be spent on Irish goods or in Irish shops. How would that work?
On some things the difference between local or Irish goods isn't as much as you'd think: the big price chasm between groceries prices in the North and here has narrowed -- but on clothes and booze we found massive price differences.
Drogheda resident and mum-of-three Angela Carr is a ninja bargain-watcher. Living just 15 minutes drive from Newry, she would have done her big Christmas grocery shops there in the past but is now more inclined to buy at home. "Food prices came down here and a lot of people did stop going up. Plus you're cutting down on what you're buying anyway these days," she says.
"But on some things you can still really see the difference, such as clothes," she adds. "A Gap jumper might be €30 in the North versus €45 in Dublin. A Marks and Spencer skirt, €37 versus €47 down here. Alcohol is still far cheaper, we did our Christmas drink shop up North -- we found it's cheaper and there are far more special offers."
We looked at some key Christmas buys and what they cost here at home versus in the North, or to buy online from outside the country.
Turkey and ham
A foreign bird will cost you as much as 66 per cent less than a local turkey.
Aldi's are French or Chilean and cost €10.99 for a circa-4.5kg bird. Lidl's are French, also €10.99 for a similar one. At a local butcher in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, an Irish bronze turkey of that size will set you back €33.
Aldi does have Irish ham though, with a 2kg one costing €8.98, though Dunnes Stores' Irish ham is cheaper at €7.98. You can add one-third or so on for one in a butcher's.
Christmas pud and cake
Aldi have matured Christmas puddings made by Seery's bakery in Co Carlow, for €4.99, cheaper than Dunnes Stores matured Christmas pudding, same weight and size, produced in Ireland at €6.98.
Aldi's whiskey Christmas Cake is well priced at €9.99 for 900g and is also made by Seery's.
Both Lidl and Aldi have lots of well-priced Irish Christmas fare, from Irish cream liqueur to cocktail sausages and cheeses.
Lidl has its own-brand Irish whiskey made by Cooley Distilleries for €15.99.
It will cost you a fortune, 60 per cent more, to fork out for home-produced salmon, and not even fancy organic stuff. Irish smoked farmed salmon is €10.99 for 200g from Marks & Spencer, while smoked farmed salmon from Scotland and Norway is €5 for 300g in Dunnes.
Buying local when stocking up on festive booze would really make you want to drink to forget.
For Moet et Chandon pink champagne you'll pay 29 per cent more in Ireland than over the Border, with Tesco Ireland selling a 75cl bottle for €49.99 versus €35.85 in UK stores. Bottles of Maschio Proscecco are €13.87 each over the Border but 20 per cent less festive at €17.39 here.
Beers are trickier to compare as the well-known brands on offer are packaged in different volumes and numbers of units in UK stores to here, but 12 bottles of Heineken costs you almost double south of the Border.
A 12-pack of Heineken 330ml bottles is €9.25 in Tesco's Newry store but a 6-pack of those bottles costs €9.99 here. A 20-pack of 300ml cans of Budweiser is only €13.89 in UK Tesco stores, but a much heftier €20 in the south. Talk about crying into your beer.
Guinness, depending on packaging formats, is at least 16 per cent dearer.
A one-litre bottle of Jameson whiskey is €26.35 up North, it's a whole €8 more down here, at €34.59.
A mixed basket of wines, beers and spirits could cost 25 per cent on average less over the Border than here, we found.
Christmas gladrags cost you as much as 24 per cent more locally.
A man's evening dress suit is €219 in Marks & Spencer in Dublin. In a Northern Irish M&S store it's only €184. A woman's faux fur coat is €148 here, but the sterling price tag converts to only €127.
A little girl's pink sequin party dress in Debenhams Dublin is €39, but only €30 in Britain. A boy's shirt, waistcoat and tie set is €33 but a tenner less at €23 in UK stores.
Irish chain Smyth's toy stores north and south match each other almost identically on price, and rival stores like Toys R Us are neck-in-neck on price. Online overseas buys can be cheaper but not always.
The Sesame Street Elmo Let's Rock doll is €59.99 in Smyth's, but it's €52 on Amazon (with the current free delivery offer). But the Air Hogs Sharp Shooter helicopter is way cheaper at your local Smyth's, at just €29.99, versus €43.96 on Amazon.
Lego Ninjago stuff costs around the same and Sylvanian Families ranges are far cheaper at Smyth's. Barbie ranges are around the same.
Coveted new gadget prices stand up well locally. The Apple iPad 2 is €479.99 at DID Electrical and PC World, but €492.73 on Amazon. The newest Kindle is slightly cheaper with Amazon, at €103 (free delivery) versus €109 at PC World. The latest Tom Tom Sat Nav XL IQ is €103 on Amazon, €109 at PC World.
DVDs and games are often cheaper online than in local HMV stores. The Kung Fu Panda collection, for example, is €22.99 in HMV and €17.33 on Amazon. The newest Legend of Zelda game is €9 cheaper on Amazon at €34.90.
Perfume holds up well for shopping at home. Debenhams is promising 'duty-free prices' for its perfumes and price checks on favourites like Chanel No 5 eau de parfum 35ml (€50) at Debenhams and Brown Thomas were far cheaper, or as cheap, than online or abroad.
Overall, clothes and booze are the main Christmas price headaches when buying local.
That said, even soothing a little seasonal overindulgence costs 33 per cent more here. In a Boots store in Ireland, a 20-tablet box of Alka Seltzer costs €4.89. In Boots up North, its only €3.29.
Sunday Indo Business