Exposing the ‘rip off’ island myth
Saturday 9th February 2013, 2:00PM GMT.
AN ANNOUNCEMENT by the Channel Islands price and competition regulator Cicra that it is to look into grocery prices and, later, fuel prices will be welcomed by consumers. It should also be embraced by the relevant businesses.
Rip off Guernsey is a criticism thrown at local retailers and stores all too often – and frequently without any justification.
Prices will inevitably be higher here. The absence of economy of scale, transport, wages and rents bear more heavily than they would in the UK. What Circa has to do is look at that in the context of any tax or other benefits and come to a conclusion whether the gap in prices bears rational explanation.
Some areas – alcohol, tobacco and petrol in particular – show marked differences in prices compared with the UK after duty is removed. Does that suggest excess profit taking or are there other factors at work?
It is in everyone’s best interests if the ‘rip off’ myth can be nailed – or exposed.
Cicra is also in a position to shed some light on another typically Guernsey anomaly: the absence of Sunday trading.
Legislating to keep cheaper supermarkets closed is States-sponsored support for more expensive convenience stores and clearly anti-competitive, which the regulator will have a view on.
There is also a wider issue touching on sustainability and basic good husbandry. If supermarkets were open on a Sunday there would be less waste because fewer items would be date closed on the shelves and dumped.
It is to be hoped that Cicra’s review looks at this to establish whether this is a significant issue and whether it impacts upon prices. Any stock that is unsold is a cost ultimately passed on to the customer and this is an opportunity to discover whether what is dumped is as a result of poor ordering or the dog’s breakfast legislation yet again working against the consumer.
As the recession grinds on, wages are failing to keep up with inflation and household budgets are getting squeezed.
That gives this regulatory investigation particular relevance – and its findings will be revealing whichever way it concludes on price fairness.
CampaignsVoice For Victims
Voice for Victims is a campaign aimed at promoting the rights of those affected by child sexual abuse.