Tesco Christmas Card
Upon readying the always excellent blog by the Irish Times Conor Pope, his article today linked here, prompted me to write this article.

So we are in a recession, people are losing jobs, the government is increasing taxes, house prices are plummeting and its cheaper to buy a second hand car than a bicycle. Sign of the times? Well perhaps not.

As you can read from Conor’s article there are some questions to be asked about Tesco seemingly raising prices on some goods. However their spokesperson, Paul Cullen reminded Conor that Tesco has lowered over 9,000 prices instore this year alone. Wow says you! Maybe. How many products do Tesco sell? According to Tesco’s website, they provide in Ireland “an average of over 10,000 grocery product lines and almost 15,000 product lines in total”. However that seems quite a small number. Conor Pope commented on a figure somewhere between 35,000 but I have been unable to confirm it anywhere. So while 9,000 reductions may be good, it must be viewed in terms of total number of products and contrasted against value of increases.

Today brings another reason why business in Ireland is taking a hit. VAT. The higher VAT rate in Ireland now rises half a percent to 21.5%. However in the UK, the VAT rate has reduced to 15% leaving a whopping 6.5% difference. Time to jump in the car and drive to Northern Ireland to do the shopping? Of course, but bare in mind there is no VAT charged on many groceries in Ireland anyway! However you dont have to do much googling to see what savings can be made by going over the, um, border or whatever we call it now, and shopping in Newry etc. This thread here taken from our friends over at boards.ie highlights a large number of savings people made by shopping “abroad”. And abroad in this case, Newry is only about 60 miles from Dublin. I know personally, I will be doing most of my Christmas shopping, grocery and gifts, in Newry this week.

Is it unpatriotic? Well you could argue it on one hand, but feck it. I’m a big supporter of Irish business but when some large price variances can be seen, that loyalty all goes out the window. Even our government, in their brazen hypocritical tones and trying to push the unpatriotic card on everyone. Yet when it suits them they talk about the United Ireland when it comes to jobs, road deaths and politics.

One thing this VAT issue has demonstrated is how a concerned government deals with a recession. Gordon Brown and his crew knew what to do. In a time of sinking consumer confidence and dropping tax receipts, rather than put up VAT, which can only serve to makes consumer confidence worse, they saw the simplest solution from the get go. Decrease tax. Get people back in the shop. The British government is now benefitting from the bonus tax receipts from us Paddies traveling to a different county in “United Ireland” to reap the benefit. Perhaps Lenihan and Cowen are kicking themselves that they didnt think of it sooner. But then again they are probably too busy getting $410 haircut to give a toss.

But it doesn’t end there. We have some good news?! The LVA and VFI have come together and announced a freeze for the next 12 months on the price of alcohol. Considering many pubs already put their prices up in recent weeks, it means feck all really. If anything it is nothing more than a PR stunt. If the price of drink is already too high, freezing it for 12 months is nothing more than kicking the ghoulies off an already dead tiger. Pub trade is at the lowest is has ever been and while the LVA VFI are quick to blame everyone else they never once stop to think that the prices they charge have anything to do with it. Now I dont expect them to accept 100% responsibility but come on lads, keep off the sauce the night before you prepare your radio interviews. Take a leaf out of our friends in Northern Ireland’s book or you risk your pubs looking something like this on a Saturday night…

A busy Saturday night down the local

I could go on and give more examples, of which there are many, of where savings can be made, who is cheaper than who etc etc. But its not that cloak and dagger anymore. So here are my 3 simple tips for the Christmas:

1. Use the internet
2. Travel to Northern Ireland
3. Use your common sense!

Happy shopping.

Unfortunately Dara Ó BriaIn was too expensive to hire to do an ad for my blog so here is a picture of Santa Clause instead.
Happy Santa

Rip off Ireland eaten by the Celtic Tiger?

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