The Weak U.S. Dollar
A major issue for many, particularly those who are paid in U.S. dollars and spend euros or the Yen (or other currencies), has been the weak U.S. dollar. While European tourists to the United States are looking at a shopping El Dorado, U.S. visitors to Europe have to pay almost $1.50 for one euro. This may be beneficial for the export economy of the United States, but it can have a negative effect on the worldwide economy, particularly for countries that export to the United States more than they import.
The dollar has repeatedly beat its record lows versus other currencies this year. And the end may not yet be reached. So far, the dollar's value has plummeted by more than 10% during the last six months. Source: www.x-rates.com
The same trend can be found in the exchange rate between the British pound and the dollar, although the extent is less substantial. Source: www.x-rates.com
Compared to the Japanese Yen the dollar also lost a good 12% within the last six months. Source: www.x-rates.com
The U.S. dollar lost almost 15% to the Canadian dollar within the last six months. However, the exchange rate has stabilized at around 1:1. Source: www.x-rates.com
Although the exchange rate went up and down, the same tendency can be found between the U.S. dollar and the Australian dollar. Source: www.x-rates.com
However, the cost differences for hardware we found on several markets cannot be generally related to the U.S. dollar weakness. Let's look at what people in different countries have to pay for common products.
Worldwide Price Comparison: How We Did It
We looked at online stores in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States and converted all prices into U.S. dollars and euros for comparison purpose. Since there are different taxes, we decided to compare net prices. If you want to calculate the final product price you will have to add local U.S. or Canadian sales tax, which is roughly 4-9%, depending on the state you're shopping in. Canada has a GST and a PST. Australia has a 10% sales tax, while France has a 20% value-added tax, which is 19% in Germany and in most of the European Union. The United Kingdom, however, has a 17.5% value-added tax. Since value-added tax has to be paid for by the consumer, who is at the end of the value-added chain, businesses in Europe usually get a value-added tax refund, which means that they effectively do not really pay the tax.
For Australia we checked prices at shopbot.com.au.
For Canada, we went to shopbot.ca and pricegrabber.ca. To get French quotes, we visited Monsieur Prix (monsieurprix.com). For Germany, we visited Geizhals, which is based in Austria (geizhals.at/de). Google's Product Search provided price comparisons for the United Kingdom. For the United States, we checked Google's Product Search as well as Pricegrabber.com.
We calculated the average product price out of the four cheapest offers to get solid and reliable data. If Websites advertised products with prices that were considerably lower than the norm, we made sure that the products were actually available (sometimes vendors use deceptive marketing practices by listing rock-bottom prices for products they do not really have in stock). Finally, we did not include shipping costs.