Why your postcode could cost you this Christmas

If you've been hunting for a few Christmas bargains this year only to be disappointed, it may be that your postcode is to blame. High street chains are reportedly guilty of varying their shelf-prices for Christmas gifts depending on the location of the store.

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And the difference could be as much as 80 per cent. Everything from toys and books to perfume and petrol is affected by the policy, whereby some retailers alter their prices if there is competition nearby.

The news has emerged as internet retailers prepare for "Mega Monday" - shoppers are expected to splash £1 million a minute online this afternoon. And with in-store prices varying to such a degree, it's hardly surprising that, along with the adverse weather conditions, many shoppers have been persuaded to log on for their shopping.

But consumer groups have condemned the price variations - just as an example, one of this year's biggest-selling toys, the Kidizoom Plus camera, was found to be 50 per cent more expensive in the Leeds and Manchester branches of Argos than it was in Bath or Glasgow.

And a Mad Men DVD box set went from £18 in the Birmingham HMV store to £28 in Cardiff.

Lola Bello, policy expert at Consumer Focus, told the Daily Mail: "Custsomers shopping at stores with branches across the country expect to pay the same or nearly the same price for goods, regardless of which branch they use.

"We see no reason for significan price differences between regions - consumers shouldn't face a postcode lottery when doing their Christmas shopping.

"We encourage shoppers to do their research and shop around, and to challenge retailers to explain large discrepancies in prices."

What do you think? Are big name brands guilty of cashing in on wealthier shoppers? Leave your comments below...