Friday 1 June 2007

Price Comparison

The other day I posted a cost comparison for UK vs USA petrol prices. Janell, blogger extraordinaire, suggested we do a price comparison of commonly purchased goods. USA prices are courtesy of her blog. I have copied them here for ease of use.

In green is the cost of the item in the UK. The first price is the USA price. Bold denotes the more expensive of the two. It is usually the UK price if you get confused!

Butter $2.85/pound $3.86/pound

Eggs $1.25/dozen $4.18 dozen

Milk $1.88/half gallon $1.15/ half gallon
In US a $1.50 refund for bottle return, so a half gallon actually costs 38 cents

Ground Beef $2.25/lb $4.00/lb 90% lean
(USA) 88% (UK-90% not available)

Hot Dogs $1.25 for 8 $3.36 for 10

Bread $1.25/loaf $2.19/loaf

Pork & Beans .59/can .81/7 oz can
Not available in UK. Price cited is for baked beans

Heavy cream $3.88/quart $2.24/quart

Breakfast cereal $4.00 $4.96
UK price is for Cheerios

Ice cream $3.99/5 quart $6.90/5 quart
UK stored brand vanilla

Fresh halibut steak $12.99/lb $19.95/1 lb
UK Tuna steak given as halibut not available

Beef T-bone steak $5.99/lb $19.69/lb
UK ribeye price given as T-Bone not available

Lettuce .99/head $1.38/head

Cabbage .29/lb .45/lb
UK price for white cabbage

Apples $1.99/lb $2.19/lb

Laundry Soap $2.50 $10.58
USA 40 load liquid UK 33 load liquid

Bath Soap $3.89/4 bars .99/4 bars Olay

Shampoo $3.99/30 oz $18.88/30 oz

Dish Soap $1.89/30 oz $3.92/30 oz

Toothpaste $2.79 .93

Toilet Paper $6.00/12 rolls $7.90/12 rolls

Beer $4.99/6 pack $8.69/6 pack

Good beer $7.99/6 pack $13.18/6 pack
(Took this to mean imported) UK price is for USA Budweiser

Local telephone landline $19.99/month $26/month + calls
UK no calls are free, not even local calls

Cell phone $29.99 w/100 mins $80 w/1000 mins

Electricity $100/month avg $243/month avg
UK includes gas for heating

Propane $1.89/gallon N/A
Not an option in UK

Hay for horses $4.50/bale N/A
Haven’t a clue about costs in UK

Dog food $16.99/40 lb $80/40 lb

Cat food $26.99/40 lb $223.20/40 lb
Both Iams brand

Cat litter $3.99/20 lb $7.60

I have roughly converted metric to imperial and used an approximate current exchange rate of $2=£1. In the USA, sales tax, dependant on local and state rates, is applied at the checkout. In the UK, tax is included in the price. Tax is a flat 17.5% everywhere in the UK. No food products have tax in either country but products like toilet paper, soap, and toothpaste do. Luxury items like beer and tea are taxed at double rate, ie 35%. Also, note many of the large sized items are simply not available in the standard UK supermarket. I have extrapolated mathematically to determine the amounts.

I need to get rid of my cat! And why is soap and toothpaste cheaper here in the UK?

Editor's Note: I worked tirelessly to get this into a table but can't figure out how to paste one into the html. Sorry about the crappy format. I will try to do better next time!


Janell said...

I found these comparisons to be absolutely fascinating! Thank you for doing all the conversions. I'm going to submit this to our local newspaper and radio people that I know.
I'll never complain about groceries again! Feel free to remind me I said that if I do.

Brooke said...

I can't believe the price of eggs over there!

JMarie said...

That's wild. Are the wages higher to make up the difference?

Higher prices because most things have to be brought to the island?

LaDawn said...

Nope, not higher at all. We don't have as much disposable income but we do have socialised medicine so I have NO medical insurance costs which I reckon makes up a big chunk of the differential here.

The cost of goods has nothing to do with "bringing it to the island". Even the USA imports most of its goods and that would be a pretty big island! Nope, just taxes and the free market can and does support it. We pay for our social system.

That's the whole idea of the social system. Everyone shares the burden in the interest of the greater good.

Don't mistake my residence in England as agreement with the principles. I think it sucks that my neighbour's 20 year old daughter doesn't work, has a baby son and we pay (through taxes)for their apartment, their food, their medical care, their education (including free university), etc. Forever....if she chooses. I could go on and on about this.

The welfare state is VERY generous here. The idea is that the better off should help out the less well off so that we can all end up in a better place. Philosophically this makes sense. In practice, you end up with a lot of dead beats milking the system.

Don't even get me started on the state of immigration here.

JMarie said...

Ouch. Shall I refer Joe to your site for his two cents? Nawwww.

Yeah, wellfare reform worked out well here. We still have deadbeats, just fewer.

Shirley said...

It's funny -- when I was reading your comparisons, I was really taken back by the price of eggs, and thought that was my first comment to make. I see Brooke already noted that -- what does make them so pricey?

My next thought was to ask about how much medical care and insurance you have to contribute, and you addressed that already, too. WE seriously need to do something about that here.

And third -- I don't know where Janell is getting such cheap laundry soap. Our box of Tide is about $16.

LaDawn said...

Leah - Send Joe on over....we could use a male perspective. Hey, why are there no men commenting on my site. I know some visit!

Shirley - The whole egg thing never really occurred to me....I think I will look into getting some chickens.

Janell- Thanks for the shout out on your blog.

JMarie said...

Red Rover, Red Rover...I'm sending Joe Joe on over. Comments he has in droves.

Anonymous said...

Fear Not LA and Leah, Joe is here. My official first post is a long one. But as usual, very accurate.
Your price comparison's are interesting and some of the reason's outlined are accurate, but not the main driver. So pardon the pun, but your reasons have nothing to do with the price of eggs.

Yes, the US does import many many things. But most of everything listed is domestically produced. We do not import eggs, butter, beef (unless its Japanese Kobe Beef. Really expensive but good), pork and beans, ice cream, etc. All of it with the exception of soap and gas (petrol) is domestically produced.
I chalk up the lower prices to higher productivity rates in the US, the agricultural power capacity of the US and socialis taxes from the welfare state. There are chicken and cow farms, etc in practically every state in the US. In the US, we do not tax food items (generally). If you asked me what the price of milk of eggs are, I couldn't answer you without going to the store and checking. That's because food, like gasoline, has zero price elasticity. I'd pretty much fill up my non-hybrid Luxury SUV to go buy eggs regardless of the price as would most people.

To the health care argument. The common argument most Americans make is "I'd pay a higer tax for free health care". Not realizing that its actually cheaper to get it on your own than to pay a consumption tax or luxury tax on it. My employer subsidizes my healthcare cost as a benefit. Not everyone has this benefit, but most americans do. Even the "worst" plans are cheaper than paying a consumption or luxury tax into an entitlement program. Despite that they exist in the US. There are millions of people that are on welfare in the US and this is funded by the Federal Income Tax. We also pay two additional taxes tied to entitlement. Social Security and Medicare (6.5% and 15% respectively).

Now if you neighbor's lazy daughter were told she was getting cut off, she would find a way to support her self. She may have to make choices on her life style, but she'd find a way. But no one wants to be a bad guy and cut here off. That's what's interesting about the left. They come up with really neat sounding general terms that can say they are against on the surface, but the devil is in the details. For example:
I am all for social equality - But how do you do it?
I am for the children - It doesn't take a village to raise a child, it takes two parents
I am not a racist - But I oppose affirmative action and illegal immigration
I wish there were no poverty - So I voluntarily give to Charity. Tax me and I will stop
I oppose violence against children - Yet, because I am pro-life I'm a right wing extremist

LaDawn said...

Welcome Joe!
I, like Joe, haven’t really given much thought to why the price of groceries are so high. In fact, until I did the price comparison, I haven’t even really noticed. I guess they have that whole zero price elasticity thingy going on. But unlike Joe, I do not believe gas has zero price elasticity (big words for you, Joe!). I drive a diesel. So does my husband. Both of our cars get over 40 mpg and my husband is attempting to produce biodiesel in our garage to reduce our dependence on gas. We are also looking at installing solar panels and a wind turbine in our home so we can contribute back into the national grid. Now that would be a contribution to society worth making!
Hey readers, do you think gas has zero price elasticity?
The UK does not import eggs or butter and most beef is produced domestically (although some is imported mostly from Argentina). We have chicken, cow, and sheep farms.
The US does have very high productivity rate (although to be honest I can’t figure out why). And the agricultural power cannot be touched by the small island I live on.
The population of the US is ~360 million. The population of the UK is ~56 million. My entire country of the UK can fit inside the square miles of Colorado.

When you say MOST Americans have employer subsidised healthcare, what percentage of the US work force are you saying equals most? I dare you to come up with the statistic that backs up this outrageous claim. I found this which states 45 million Americans have NO healthcare at all. That post states (far more eloquently than I could) why there should be a universal healthcare system in the USA). Of course, I kinda lost the right to voice an opinion when I stopped being obligated to pay US taxes (4 years ago), although I still do get to vote. That vote isn’t counted though since it is by proxy!
Agree that the UK welfare state needs a major overhaul. Nobody seems to have the appetite for it though. And I think it would be political suicide to even attempt to deal with the subject.
Haven’t figured out the solution to social equality. Minds far cleverer than mine have worked on the problem for decades and there still isn’t an answer. We know it isn’t communism and we know it isn’t capitalism. I suspect it is somewhere in the middle.

Disagree with the statement that it takes two parents to raise a child. Hell, children can raise themselves if absolutely necessary. I like to believe it does take a village to raise children who are socially and environmentally conscious and to give them depth of character. I believe children should have deep relationships with the elderly in particular in the community, especially if they don’t have grandparents close by. This engenders respect for the older generation and their contribution to that child’s future. But it isn’t just the elderly, children need to learn how to play nice with others. Everyone bears the responsibility for raising children. If we limit it to just 2 people we will raise very narrow minded adults who will be ultimately flawed.
Affirmative action for blacks has probably made the most difference that it can and its probably time to put an end to it. But at one time is was necessary.
Immigration is good. Sometimes the only way to immigrate is illegally. Fact of life. Let’s make legal immigration easier. And restrict access to governmental benefits. I must confess, I spent 3 months in the UK a little bit illegally waiting for my work visa to come through (this was11 years ago before I received my permanent residence visa).
The USA gives less than any other nation per capita to charity. Not counting Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. We could probably get more if you kept your little donation adn we taxed everyone else instead. Although, privately, I don’t htink this is required. Now I’m just arguing for the sake of arguing and because your statement is ridiculous.
I am pro-life but only because I am a woman and I dare anyone to get in the way of me and my body.

Hope everyone enjoys Joe’s rants. Trust me this will be one of many. If you want to see it get real lively head on over to Leah’s Blog.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm… let me see. 45/360 = 15%. That would leave about 85% with healthcare. Now I went to pulbic skhool and all but 85% seems to qualify as most. Given the current unemployment rate, which is a healthy 4.5% (16.2M Americans not working but seeking jobs) that leaves roughly 29M with no actual Healthcare. The definition of no healthcare is misleading. You have to subtract people who choose not to have it and can afford it, there are those out there that naturally don’t have it (College students). I didn’t have healthcare for 4.5 years while in college, (Yes, I actually graduated from college with 2 degrees and a minor in 4.5 years) but somehow survived.

What’s also mis-leading is, if a poor uninsured individual broke his / her leg working at the terrible wal-mart or on a construction site (Legal citizen or not) and didn’t have healthcare, the government pays for it. The difference is, you just can’t to go a dermatologist, get braces, etc if you don’t have the money or coverage.

Agreed, affirmative action had its place in the past. Looks like we actually agree now.

I won’t even touch your illegal immigration comment. I am glad the UK is more open than the US. In about 4 years, London will be re-named Londonistan.

I have a minor in Econ, so I think I know what elasticity means. Maybe its because I just send my wife to the grocery store instead of me ;-) (JK). I don’t think she worries about the prices since she is a stay at home mom.

Driving a diesel, doesn’t reduce your dependence on a fossil fuel. Unless I am mistaken, diesel still comes out of the ground.

Good for you on the solar panels and wind turbine (hopefully it doesn't affect your dish reception...:-) ). I don’t have anything against people who try to conserve energy or do whatever they want. I recycle as well, plastics and papers every Thursday. I shut off lights etc. The difference is, I do it to save money, not because of global warming guilt.

Global warming is not a foregone conclusion, there are just as many scientists who refute it, that actually support it. I hardly call that a fact and a reason to go out and drive a hybrid (which is a net drain on the environment). The average temperature on planet earth has risen a little over 1 degree and this is a crisis? Before 1975, everyone was freaking out that there was global cooling (Time Magazine). What then, pollute more to warm the planet back up? I believe man made global warming is the newest religion, complete with revelations and doomsday prophecies. The religious aim is guilt. Second hand smoke, chopping down trees, fossil fuels and not recycling are all sins. God, in the global warming context, is Al Gore. Our punishment/penance…Higher taxes, bigger government and more restrictions on how you can live your life (Unless you are Indian or Chinese). Where do I sign?

I am all for re-cycling and the environment, as are most people, I recycle myself. I even have Compact Fluorescent Bulbs in my house (I used to work for GE Lighting). The difference, I am not shouting from the roof tops that the world is going to end and I am not going to change my lifestyle.

The other difference is I don’t preach it, I simply practice it. The Hypocrisy of the Global Warming scam is Al Gore. He consumes 4x (didn’t have time to look up the exact figure but that is the minimum) the average home's electricity. He refuses to reduce his own consumption, but we have to reduce ours. His excuse, I buy carbon offsets. That’s an even bigger scam. Al Gore buys carbon credits from a company he owns that only sells carbon offsets to himself. That goes back to my other point of leftist slogans. Who can say they are against the environment? I am not, but the devil is in the details.

This was a pretty good rant if I say so myself, I didn’t even hit your other points. I’ll make another post in a few. I’ll get back to you on the generosity of the USA. I want to look up data before I debunk you ridiculous statement. But I will say this, the US feeds the world hands down!
I apologize if I am withholding comment (errrrgggh... rant) because I want to check my facts before I "spew".