Czech Republic among cheapest EU countries

The country has cheap cars, electronics, and hotels and restaurants

The Czech Republic has significantly below average prices in several areas including the lowest in the EU in cars and personal transport equipment, according to Eurostat. The statistical arm of the European Union just released an interactive infographic and other statistics comparing 2016 prices.

“In 2016, price levels for consumer goods and services differed widely in the European Union. Denmark (139 percent of the EU average) had the highest price level, followed by Ireland (125 percent), Luxembourg and Sweden (both 124 percent), Finland and the United Kingdom (both 121 percent). At the opposite end of the scale, the lowest price level was found in Bulgaria (48 percent), while Poland (53 percent) and Romania (52 percent) were just above 50 percent of the average. In other words, price levels for consumer goods and services in the EU varied by almost one to three between the cheapest and the most expensive Member States,” Eurostat said in a press release. The Czech Republic was at 65 percent of the EU average.

For personal transportation equipment the Czech Republic, where the country was cheapest of all, was at 78.3 percent of the EU average, while Denmark was at 146.0 percent. Luxembourg and Italy were closest to the average in that category. “With the noticeable exception of Denmark … price differences among Member States were … limited for personal transport equipment, from 78 percent in the Czech Republic to 119 percent in the Netherlands,” Eurostat said.

But for transportation services such as railway, buses and inland boats, the Czech Republic was only fourth-cheapest at 51.6 percent of the EU average, with Bulgaria cheapest at 46.4 percent and Iceland, which is a European Free Trade Association member but not part of the EU, was at 168.1 percent.

Surprisingly, the Czech Republic has the second-cheapest consumer electronics, but the prices across the EU are fairly standard. In the Czech Republic they are 91 percent of the EU average, beaten only by Poland.

“Consumer electronics is a group of products where prices differed less among Member States, ranging from 86 percent of the average in Poland to 115 percent in Denmark,” Eurostat said.

Some other areas were also quite close. “Clothing is another group of products showing a smaller price disparity among Member States, with Bulgaria (81 percent of the average) cheapest and Sweden (136 percent) most expensive,” Eurostat said. The Czech Republic was at 96 percent of the average clothing prices, making it seventh-cheapest.

The Czech Republic also had a good result for hotel and restaurant prices, where the country was third-cheapest in the EU. “Restaurants and hotels is [a] category where differences in price levels were most pronounced. Price levels ranged from less than 60 percent of the EU average in Bulgaria (44 percent), Romania (53 percent) and the Czech Republic (56 percent) to 150 percent in Denmark and 144 percent in Sweden,” Eurostat said.

The Czech Republic did not have the cheapest alcohol and tobacco prices. “With a variation by over one to three between Member States, price levels for alcoholic beverages and tobacco showed significant variations. The lowest price level in 2016 was registered in Bulgaria (56 percent of the average), ahead of Hungary (67 percent), Poland (68 percent) and Romania (69 percent). At the opposite end of the scale, the highest prices were observed in Ireland (175 percent) and the United Kingdom (162 percent), followed at a distance by the three Nordic EU Member States – Finland (135 percent), Sweden (128 percent) and Denmark (122 percent). It should be noted that this large price variation is mainly due to differences in taxation of these products among Member States,” Eurostat said. The Czech Republic was at 71.3 percent of the EU average for alcohol and tobacco, making it fifth cheapest.

Another key area is food and non-alcoholic beverages. “In 2016, the price level of a comparable basket of food and non-alcoholic beverages across the EU was more than twice as high in the most expensive Member State than in the cheapest one. Price levels ranged from 62 percent of the EU average in both Poland and Romania to almost 150 percent of the average in Denmark (148 percent), followed by Sweden (126 percent), Austria (123 percent), Luxembourg (121 percent), Ireland and Finland (both 120 percent),” Eurostat said. The Czech Republic was at 81 percent of the EU average. Another chart put out by Eurostat with statistics for food but excluding beverages had the country at 79.1 percent, putting it in fifth place.

For housing, the Czech Republic was at 56.8 percent of the EU average, for recreation and culture it was at 62.9 percent, and for furniture and carpets it was at 69.5 percent

The most expensive area, where the country was at 93.2 percent, or 16th place, was communications. Lithuania was cheapest at 49.7 percent.

Data is based on the results of a price survey covering more than 2,400 consumer goods and services across Europe, which is part of the Eurostat-OECD Purchasing Power Parity program. Price level indices (PLIs) provide a comparison of countries' price levels relative to the European Union average: if the price level index is higher than 100, the country concerned is relatively more expensive than the EU average, while if the price level index is lower than 100, then the country is relatively cheaper than the EU average, Eurostat stated.

The overall price levels relate to the concept of household final consumption expenditure (HFCE), which consists of all expenditure incurred by households on goods and services for consumption, including also rents for housing.

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