Monday, 29 December 2008

The Legend of the Golden Fleece

The Sunday Business Post (Ireland) has picked up news that the Consumers' Association has criticised fashion retailer H&M for marking up its Irish prices by 40 per cent or more. It seems that, in H&M's new South King Street store, Dublin, sterling prices are being multiplied by almost one and a half as a euro conversion. H&M have responded by reminding the Consumers' Association that the Republic is a separate market to the UK and that its sterling and euro prices are set independently of each other.  Dermott Jewell, chief executive of the Consumers' Association of Ireland, is disappointed that the leading retailer had not introduced any real reductions in Irish prices despite the weakening of sterling:
"Their reaction has been either to remove or obliterate the sterling prices. Those who have left prices visible, as is the case here, are defiantly and unashamedly applying prices that do no more than fleece Irish consumers. This is really unacceptable. There is a lesson for us all in this as consumers, but when will we stop and take note? The problem remains that consumers still keep buying at these inflated and outrageous prices, rather than leaving the products on the rails and shelves of the greedy retailers".
Fashionista has a vague feeling that the Golden Fleece was a Greek myth rather than an Irish reality. But isn't Ireland still a free economy in which market forces prevail? Have no savvy competitors taken the opportunity to undercut H&M or to embarrass them through some robust price-comparative ads?