Why are IKEA products three times pricier for Brits?

Research shows we pay more for IKEA than elsewhere around the world. Is this fair?

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If you've just walked several miles around a showroom, wrestled flatpack into your Nissan Micra, and spent the best part of a day sweating over baffling instructions, then you may want to look away now. A report has revealed that shoppers in the UK are paying up to three times as much for the same IKEA products as consumers in the US and Sweden.

The Daily Mail looked at a selection of products and found some startling differences. So, for example, a SKRUVSTA swivel chair costs £100 in the UK, but only £68 in Sweden and £59 in the US. A FAVORIT pan set costs £130 in the UK, but only £85 in Sweden and £52 in the US, and a KNALLA bag costs £5 in the UK but just £2.49 in Sweden and £1.61 in the US.

There will be those who smart at the difference in price. Certainly this isn't the first time the Daily Mail has reported the difference. In May last year it highlighted the same phenomenon.

It asked the company to explain the differences, and Emily Birkin, UK sales manager for IKEA, said: "Prices are subject to a number of factors in every country such as exchange rates, VAT, corporation taxes, wages, energy prices and transportation costs. All of these factors have an impact on the total cost. We always aim to give customers in the UK the lowest price for comparable products sold by any competitor."

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Retail analysts point out that part of the issue is indeed the cost of doing business in the UK, and things like the relatively high sales tax, high fuel prices, and high wages don't help.

However, they say the 'competition' element of this statement is important too. Any furniture retailer will also use the local competition to set prices, and IKEA in the UK is still phenomenally cheap compared to other shops, so it can afford to charge a little more. The cheapest swivel chair at DFS, for example, is on sale at the moment for £279 and the cheapest at Furniture Village is on sale at £174. And while you could argue that both are more swanky and come with a footstool, if you're after a swivel chair this is your cheapest option.

There's no arguing with the fact that IKEA delivers on low prices: it's the cornerstone of the business. It promises to be affordable in every country, and while it's always going to be a disappointment to hear that someone living in the US is going to get a set of pans for less than half the price it costs you, it comes as a comfort when you only actually paid £130 for a set of seven pans yourself.

Meanwhile, AOL research reveals that the UK is cheaper than IKEA elsewhere around the world. In Perth, Australia, for example, the SKRUVSTA swivel chair would set you back the equivalent of £110, and in the Dominican Republic it would cost you £108.

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