The impartial shopping comparison website says retailers are levying an extortionate ‘high street tax’ just for the privilege of shopping in store and that in some instances shoppers are paying almost double the amount they could be.
The findings are the result of a mystery shopping exercise conducted by PriceRunner.co.uk in 11 cities across Great Britain. Each mystery shopper walked the length of at least one major high street per city and collected as many prices as possible for 10 items in a basket of popular consumer goods. In each case shoppers were asked to get prices for a precise make and model in order to make fair comparisons.
The national average cost of the basket of goods from the high street was 2,231.55, whereas the best online price for the same products was 1,785.11 – a difference of 446.44, including packaging and home delivery. The percentage ‘mark up’ from the cheapest online price to the average high street price varied from 7 per cent on iPods to 72 per cent for Nike trainers. Typically the average extra levy – or ‘high street tax’ – was 31.79 per cent.
PriceRunner.co.uk Rip Off Britain: Basket of Goods
high street price
|‘high street tax’|
|Nike Air Zoom Trainers||85.79||49.98||35.81||71.65%|
|DKNY Ladies Watch||68.21||42.99||25.22||58.66%|
|Bosch Tassimo coffee maker||107.60||75.00||32.60||43.47%|
|Hotpoint Aquarius washing machine||407.23||291.95||115.28||39.49%|
|Wii sports package||192.79||149.98||42.81||28.54%|
|Canon PowerShot camera||243.47||199.00||44.47||22.35%|
|Sony Bravia 40″ TV||767.51||649.99||117.52||18.08%|
|Yves Saint Laurent concealer||23.27||19.90||3.37||16.93%|
|Dyson DC14 Origin||186.81||167.37||19.44||11.61%|
|Apple 8GB iPod||148.87||138.95||9.92||7.14%|
According to PriceRunner.co.uk, Manchester’s high streets have Britain’s biggest rip offs – the total price of its basket of goods was 562 more expensive than buying all the products online and having them delivered to your door. Sheffield was the cheapest high street compared to buying online and surprisingly London and Edinburgh came 5th and 9th most expensive respectively.
Marc Thomas, UK manager for PriceRunner.co.uk, said: “Consumers are paying the price for shopping on the high street. 95 per cent of all the prices we found could be beaten online and the average mark-up on the best online price was a massive 31.79 per cent. That’s high street robbery.
“There is obviously a cost associated with having a high street presence and some of that has to be passed on to the consumer. But with such variations in prices not only between cities but also between two ends of the same high street, consumers must not be fooled by in-store price points. The evidence is clear – it is cheaper to make your eventual purchase online and have the product delivered to your home.”
PriceRunner Rip Off Britain Results
|City||Total cost of|
basket of goods
The PriceRunner.co.uk mystery shopping exercise also uncovered huge variations in high street prices between cities. Shoppers in Bristol looking for a bargain television will be happy to know they have a deal on their doorstep, saving 224.49 on a 40 inch Sony Bravia compared to their counterparts in Birmingham. However photographers in Norwich will be disappointed to hear that shoppers in Sheffield, Birmingham or Manchester could spend on average 101 less on a Canon Powershot camera.
Marc Thomas added: “Consumers needn’t be ripped off and neither do they need to travel great distances to find the cheapest product. If our research proves anything it’s the importance of doing a quick online comparison before parting with your cash. You may be able to save money and get the product delivered to your door.”
The PriceRunner.co.uk basket of goods consisted of: Nike Air Zoom trainers; a Dyson vacuum cleaner; a Nintendo Wii Sports Resort package with Motion Plus Controller; a 40” Sony Bravia television; Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat 2.5ml concealer; a DKNY ladies’ Stainless Steel Bangle Watch with Black Dial; a Canon Powershot SX200 IS digital camera; an 8gb Apple iPod; a Hotpoint Aquarius washing machine; and a Bosch Tassimo TAS 4011 coffee maker.
In total 321 different prices were collected – an average of 29 prices per city, or around three prices per product. PriceRunner.co.uk analysis shows that 96 per cent of the prices could be beaten online with only 13 high street prices cheapest overall, typically due to aggressive sales promotions. The cheapest trainers were in Nottingham, the cheapest Wii sports package in Edinburgh and the cheapest YSL makeup in Birmingham. Meanwhile, Sheffield had the cheapest washing machine and Liverpool had both the cheapest coffee maker and the cheapest Dyson.
However, according to PriceRunner.co.uk online shopping is still more competitive than shopping around on the high street. The online basket of goods was 304 cheaper than the least expensive overall high street, Sheffield, and was even 163 cheaper than the least expensive average high street prices selected from locations around the UK.