Switzerland, Norway and Denmark most expensive
Prices and price indices
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Price level for consumer goods and services2010



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Switzerland, Norway and Denmark most expensive

Switzerland, Norway and Denmark had the highest price levels in 2010, with price levels around 50 per cent over the average for the 27 EU member states. 

In 2010, the price levels in general were highest in the northern European countries, while the southeast of Europe had the lowest price levels. For total household final consumption expenditure, Switzerland, Norway and Denmark had the highest price levels, 48, 47 and 43 per cent respectively above the average price level of the 27 EU member states (EU27). The Former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia, Albania and Bulgaria on the other hand had the lowest price levels, with 56, 50 and 49 per cent below the average of EU27.

Price level indices for groups of goods and services, selected countries 2010. EU27=100
  Switzerland Norway Denmark Sweden France Germany Italy United Kingdom Spain Greece Czech Republic Bulgaria Variation coefficients:All 37 countries
Household final consumption expenditure (total index)  148  147  143  120  112  104  104  100 97 96 72 51 32
Food and non-alcoholic beverages  149  165  136  116  109  110  106  102 94 98 78 66 25
Alcoholic beverages and tobacco  112  237  125  140  108 98  104  142 80 90 82 64 39
Clothing  126  138  125  126  107  104  101 89 90  107 98 75 15
Footwear  118  141  113  115 96  102  113 85  101  107 97 73 16
Electricity, gas and other fuels  116  151  175  123 98  119 94 87 95 78  106 61 29
Furniture, carpets and other floor coverings  104  113  103 97  104 96  108  105  107  108 80 62 21
Household appliances  112  129  119  125  108 93  107  102  109 97 99 87 15
Consumer electronics  103  117  113  115  103 96  106 98  100  100 97 89 10
Personal transport equipment  106  158  167 98  102  101  100 91 98 96 90 88 17
Transport services  134  158  129  129  106  110 80  129 92 88 63 45 33
Communication  103 83 84 65  120 91  108  101  128  115  107 73 22
Restaurants and hotels  141  178  153  138  104  103  107  103 95 96 59 45 35
Source:  Eurostat.

Norway expensive in majority of product groups

Norway is the most expensive country for six out of 12 product groups in the survey and next most expensive for 5 product groups. Prices were as much as 137 per cent above the average of European member union member states (EU27) for alcohol beverages and tobacco, 78 per cent above the average for restaurants and hotels and 65 per cent above food and non-alcoholic beverages. It is only for the product group communication that Norway had price levels below the average of EU27. A contributing factor to the high Norwegian price levels for some product groups is difference in taxation. This especially concerns the indices for alcoholic beverages and tobacco, and personal transport equipment. For restaurants and hotels, high level of wages were factors that made price levels comparatively high in Norway.

High price levels in Northern Europe

Aside from Norway, certain countries have price levels noticeably higher than the EU27 average in the different groups of consumer goods. For the product group food and non-alcoholic beverages, prices were high for Denmark and Ireland, with 36 and 20 per cent respectively above the average. Ireland’s alcoholic beverages and tobacco prices were 70 per cent above the average, Sweden’s clothing prices were both 26 per cent above, while footwear prices were 36 and 20 per cent higher than the average in Iceland and Finland respectively. The high price trend in Northern Europe was also seen for majority of the product groups. For example, Denmark’s electricity, gas and other fuels were 75 per cent above the average. Malta has the highest prices in Europe for furniture and furnishings, household appliances and transport services. Generally countries southeast of Europe have price levels below the average of European member union member states (EU27).

Low price levels in southern Europe

For the holiday destinations Spain and Greece, food and non-alcoholic beverages prices are 6 and 2 per cent lower, while alcoholic beverages and tobacco prices are 20 and 10 per cent lower than the EU27 average. Prices in restaurants and hotels in the same countries are 5 and 4 per cent lower than the EU average. Going southeast in Europe, Croatia is the only country in South Eastern Europe where price levels are generally higher compared to the rest of the region. Macedonia has the lowest price level in Europe.

Highest variation in prices for alcoholic beverages and tobacco

Price variations between countries are highest for alcoholic beverages and tobacco, and the variation in the service categories transport services and restaurants and hotel services was also significant. Noticeable price differences are also seen for the product group electricity, gas and other fuels. There are also pronounced differences in prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages, furniture and furnishings, carpets and other floor coverings. The lowest price variations were seen in consumer electronics, clothing and footwear. There are many factors that affect price variations, such as availability of resources and products, differences in both taxation and wages across countries, market sizes, to mention a few. Thus it is hard to pinpoint single determining factors.

A total of 37 European countries participated in the survey: the 27 EU member states, the four candidate countries (Montenegro, Croatia, the Former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia and Turkey), three EFTA countries (Norway, Iceland and Switzerland) and three Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Serbia).

The results of the survey are expressed in ”price level indices” which provide a comparison of a country’s price level with respect to the 27 EU member states average; if the price level index is higher than 100, the country concerned is relatively expensive compared to the EU average and vice versa. Exchange rate movements have an effect on price levels. In 2010, there have been relatively large exchange rate movements especially for Sweden, Switzerland and Norway, with appreciation of 11, 9 and 9 per cent respectively.

Read more in Eurostat’s ” Statistics in Focus ”.