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Frank Hovis

Uk V Us Consumer Prices Conundrum

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I have family in the US and have been going regularly for over twenty years.

When I first started going there clothes were half the price and better quality, new cars were about a third cheaper to the extent that people imported them to here, and they had the most amazing bargains in Dollar Tree, Walmart and K-Mart.

Since then here in the UK the rise of Primark, Matalan, Lidl, Aldi, Poundland etc. has delivered similar good quality cheap products and I would say that we've caught up. But we've overtaken them as they've gone backwards.

When they come over here these days beforethey're buying up loads because it's all so cheap and were amazed that you can buy a perfectly good, if old, car for £500.

So I can understand why things have got cheaper here, but not why they have gone very much the other way in the US.

Does anybody have a theory or explanation here?

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The US CPI numbers have very little relevance to real life. I've spent a couple of weeks a year in the US for the past 10 years, and have family there. The price of food in the grocery store has become much more expensive, and it's not very good quality. Especially between about 2007 and 2010, prices went up really rapidly. I made Christmas dinner in 2012 in the US for about 8 people, and spent around $500, including food and drinks. A similar meal 5 years earlier would have cost half that, though according to the government CPI has been fairly constant around 2% the whole time.

One thing that has happened is that the US has essentially stopped enforcing anti-monopoly rules and there's been a lot of consolidation in the retail sector. For instance, there are now only a handful of large pharmacy chains across the country, whereas there used to be dozens (10 years ago). It used to be that generic over-the-counter medicines were much cheaper in the US than the UK. You could buy 500 tablets of ibuprofen for about $8. Now it's hard to find something similar for less than $20. Broadband/phone service/cable TV is extortionately expensive because the government has allowed AT&T, the former telecoms monopoly that was broken up in the 70s/80s, to re-form (but without the regulatory oversight). 15 years ago, Walmart was still expanding rapidly and driving competitors out of business. Now that those competitors are gone, prices haven risen.

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I have family in the US and have been going regularly for over twenty years.

When I first started going there clothes were half the price and better quality, new cars were about a third cheaper to the extent that people imported them to here, and they had the most amazing bargains in Dollar Tree, Walmart and K-Mart.

Since then here in the UK the rise of Primark, Matalan, Lidl, Aldi, Poundland etc. has delivered similar good quality cheap products and I would say that we've caught up. But we've overtaken them as they've gone backwards.

When they come over here these days beforethey're buying up loads because it's all so cheap and were amazed that you can buy a perfectly good, if old, car for £500.

So I can understand why things have got cheaper here, but not why they have gone very much the other way in the US.

Does anybody have a theory or explanation here?

Maybe you cant run a war machine like theirs without it having some affect on their standards of living.

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Maybe you cant run a war machine like theirs without it having some affect on their standards of living.

You mean that war machine that the British benefit from far more than the average American? The UK would be bankrupted overnight if the US stopped propping up the Middle Eastern puppet states who allow the British to run 5% trade and fiscal deficits year after year.

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You mean that war machine that the British benefit from far more than the average American? The UK would be bankrupted overnight if the US stopped propping up the Middle Eastern puppet states who allow the British to run 5% trade and fiscal deficits year after year.

Yes. I'm sure thats why we got involved with every US led meddling in the ME that even a 5 year old could see was going to end in tears for almost everyone involved. How many uk arms/equipment contracts were won on the back of Tony Blairs poodling to Georgie Bush.

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I find food relatively expensive when I visit my sister in the US. Good quality fresh food certainly is - bags of oven chips and so on maybe aren't.

And she finds ours cheap, particularly in winter. Winters are too long and cold where she lives (near Boston) to grow much at all locally, so much of it has to come quite a way, if not actually from California. No equivalent of all our locally grown veg, or the relatively cheap imports from Holland and Spain - a lot closer to us than California is to her.

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I find food relatively expensive when I visit my sister in the US. Good quality fresh food certainly is - bags of oven chips and so on maybe aren't.

And she finds ours cheap, particularly in winter. Winters are too long and cold where she lives (near Boston) to grow much at all locally, so much of it has to come quite a way, if not actually from California. No equivalent of all our locally grown veg, or the relatively cheap imports from Holland and Spain - a lot closer to us than California is to her.

I went to university in Cambridge, MA, and remember how grim a visit to the grocery store was there in the middle of winter -- wilted iceberg lettuce, shrivelled potatoes or plastic-coated navel oranges -- yum! Some cool restaurants, though.

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Anecdotal....visited he USA during the late 90s....the clothing was of higher quality, thick quality heavy weight cotton t shirts, trainers better quality for less, food very cheap....loads of places with eat all you can for very little.....everything big, big, big, whopper, huge cups of sweet soda....selling the next size up for few dollars more, the people matched their upgraded food portions.....

At home used to shop in ASDA wholly UK owned, fair and reasonable quality store.....Walmart purchased them 26 jul 1999, remember well the days....certain things changed, like they do, but noticed the clothes and shoes they brought in during that time were very good and well made, excellent quality leather shoes, and clothes made in the far east but very good value for money, must have been the purchasing power........over the years there have been swings but today nothing like the quality and value it was at the turn of the century.......is it the rate of exchange, less for more or falling margins meaning falling value? ;)

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