Shoppers still facing price gap with UK
Published 19/12/2011 | 05:00
IRISH shoppers are facing large price differences on clothes and shoes when compared with their British counterparts.
While supermarket prices have narrowed recently, there are still significant variations when it comes to fashion.
An Irish Independent survey found dramatic differences between prices in sterling and euro at popular retail outlets -- with hikes of as much as 22pc for the Irish market.
There are fears that the ongoing difference in price is driving customers online, where they can order in sterling.
Many UK retailers, such as Warehouse, Oasis, Marks & Spencer, Topshop and River Island, had either covered over or removed the sterling price from labels in their Irish stores.
But a dual-price label left on a brown Ambush zip-up boot in Topshop displayed a 22pc difference between the €114 tag and the £75 (€89.27) sterling price.
The chain failed to provide a reason for the price difference.
An 11pc price differential was found on coats in River Island, between a Dublin store and the prices online in the UK.
A men's leather jacket on the Irish and English websites for Next displayed a 12pc difference.
In Marks & Spencer, there was a 12pc difference between the UK and Irish prices of a men's non-iron shirt and a tweed Per Una coat.
Retail chiefs blamed the discrepancies on the cost of doing business in Ireland compared with the UK, the smaller bulk-buying powers and the cost of importing the goods.
Stephen Lynam, director of Retail Ireland, said retailers were working under a business climate of higher VAT rates, which will increase by a further 2pc from January, as well as wage costs and rents that were often higher than those close to central London.
"Rents have not come down," he said.
"Retailers are paying boom rents for crash times."
But one of the biggest fashion groups, Aurora, which operates Coast, Oasis and Warehouse, said that from January it would "very consciously look" at all of its prices.
Ian Galvin, chair of Aurora Ireland, said the euro prices for clothing in its Karen Millen stores were far closer to the equivalent sterling price.
There was less than a percentage in the difference -- taking into account that £1 is worth around €1.19 -- for a strapless, lace, tutu party dress that retails for €299 in Dublin stores.
Mr Galvin said the other brands were priced six months in advance of their launch, which meant that old exchange rates were used, which could account for some price differences.
A spokeswoman for River Island said its garments were ordered in advance and were priced based on the conversion rates at the time of the order.
"In relation to the Irish market, there are shipping costs involved, as well as the fact that operating costs and VAT are higher than in the UK (where the rate is 20pc)," she said.
A spokeswoman for M&S insisted it was competitively priced in Ireland.
She said other factors specific to the Irish market were taken into account when setting prices, such as rent, operational and employment costs.