We like IKEA’s cheap homewares, but if you’ve ever spent time looking at its prices elsewhere in the world, you’ll realise Australians sometimes pay a premium for its products. Just how much of a premium? The honest answer: it varies.
Picture by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
While watching The Voice last night (judge me if you must), I saw an ad for a story on A Current Affair in which a “six-month investigation” promised to reveal how Australians were being ripped off when buying IKEA gear.
Aussies paying over the odds for imported goods is nothing new, sadly, and as I know myself from many an IKEA-hacking post, the Swedish furniture giant is not always an exception to the rule. I do wonder why the investigation took so long — after all, finding out overseas pricing for IKEA doesn’t require any more effort than going to the relevant web sites. But to be fair, perhaps the ACA reporters hit factories in China or IKEA HQ in Sweden. I guess we’ll see soon enough.
Hyperbole aside, it does raise an interesting issue. So as an exercise, I grabbed our list of IKEA’s best buys under $10 and checked out what the prices were in the US for items available in both countries. Here’s what I found.
Item, $AU price
Frakta bag, $1.99
Kvartal wall fitting, $5.00
Rationell Varieria bag holder, $4.49
Bevara Sealing clips, $1.99
Lillholmen toothbrush mug, $9.99
Plastis ice cube trays, $0.99
Brada laptop support, $7.99
Lack table, $9.99
What have we learned? Some products are much cheaper in the US (the Brada laptop tray), many are the same (the Lack side tables), some are more expensive (the Bevara clips). It’s worth pointing out that some items have dropped in price locally since I originally assembled that top 10 list (the clips have fallen from $4.99 to $1.99, the laptop support has gone from $9.99 to $7.99).
I haven’t looked at more expensive furniture, where the price differentials might be starker. But the overall lesson is not mega-scandalous: prices vary in different markets. Some items look like better value in the US, but at this price point, the majority don’t.
More significantly, those prices are still cheaper than most local rivals, and no-one is forcing you to shop at IKEA. It’s not going to stop me shopping there, and the fact some local prices are higher isn’t a shock to me. What’s your reaction?