Irish people paid 70 per cent more than the European Union average for alcohol and tobacco products last year. A study by the EU statistics agency Eurostat found Irish Winston consumers faced the fifth highest overall prices in the 27 EU member countries (18 per cent above average) across six categories of consumer goods and services.
The survey, based on 2010 prices, found the cost of goods and services were at their most expensive in Denmark (43 per cent above average) and cheapest in Bulgaria (49 per cent below).
Consumers in Ireland paid above average prices in four of the six categories, with clothing and electronic goods falling just below the 27 nation benchmark.
The cost of alcohol and tobacco products (70 per cent above the average) was almost three times what people in Bulgaria and Romania paid, and 28 per cent higher than in the UK, which was found to have the second highest costs in the category.
“This large price variation is mainly due to differences in taxation of these products among member states,” Eurostat said.
The agency last week said average income per head in Ireland was the joint third highest among the 27 EU countries in 2010 – 25 per cent higher than the average.
The survey also highlighted that Irish residents faced the second highest costs for food and non-alcoholic beverages – 20 per cent more than the EU average.
Danish residents again paid most in the food and non-alcoholic drink category (36 per cent more than the EU average), while people living in Romania and Bulgaria paid just two-thirds of the EU average.
Irish restaurant and hotels were the joint third most expensive in the EU, behind Denmark and Sweden and tied with Finland.
On average, goods and services cost 18 per cent more in Ireland than in the UK.
The largest difference between the two was found in the prices of alcohol and tobacco (28 per cent higher) and restaurants and hotel accommodation (26 per cent higher). The only category where people in the UK paid more than their Irish counterparts was for electronic goods, which cost 4 per cent less here.
People in Sweden paid most for electronic goods (26 per cent above average) and clothing (15 per cent above average) with people in Bulgaria again paying least (25 and 11 per cent below average respectively).
Ireland ranked third highest – behind Denmark and Portugal – when it came to personal transport costs such as bicycles, cars, fuel and spare parts, paying 16 per cent above the EU average.
Responding to the study, the Irish Hotels Federation said the statistics concealed “substantial reductions” in hotel and guesthouse accommodation prices in Ireland since 2008. Prices have fallen by 30 per cent in that period, the federation said.
Irish Farmers Association president John Bryan said the survey confirmed that the food supply chain in Ireland “remains broken” as farmgate prices here were “at best on a par with, and in many cases below, other countries”.
David Fitzsimons, chief executive of Retail Excellence Ireland said the survey highlighted that the Irish retail sector had responded to a dramatic change in consumer spending. “While it’s welcome news to see that Irish consumers can avail of great value, the fact remains that a large number of retailers are operating at a loss,” he said.