The other week at a Poundshop, I bought an optical mouse. For a pound! Sure, it clicks like a 90’s r&b rimshot, and glows a sickly blue when you use it – that’s not really the point. The point is, it cost a pound. One pound.
Britain. Land of bargains.
For 10 pounds, I could get a pair of jeans at Primark. Admittedly, these jeans won’t fit my (apparently) massively overlong legs, but if they did, I could buy a pair for the pleasingly tidy sum of 10 pounds. The arse might violently tear out of them within a week or two (or less, depending on how much lunging needs to be done), but that’s at least as long as a NZ$35 pair from Jay-Jays.
Or, instead, that 10 pounds could go elsewhere, and I’ll come home with 10 brooms. Ten of the bastards! Or 10 “vocal microphones” that are probably more likely to pick up big-bang static and passing ghosts than actual vocals. Or 10 2-in-1 pregnancy tests! Or 10 precision screwdriver kits! Or 10 dubious hair-dye kits! Or any combination of these, and more!
Based on the exchange rate, the equivalent to a Poundshop back in NZ should be the 2 Dollar Shop. The 2 Dollar Shop, however, almost exclusively deals in worthless crap. Kaleidoscopes, mood rings, bags of army men. You won’t find yourself walking out of the there with an armful of TV cabling anytime soon, I can tell you that.
What I’ve learnt since arriving in the UK is that NZ is a rip-off. I was dimly aware of this already, what with Peter Bills causing an uproar a few years ago with an inflammatory column about NZ’s ridiculous prices, but it’s really struck me now that I’m actually here.
You can pick up 2 litres of milk here for a pound, or roughly NZ$2. Back home, it’s more like $3.50. A smaller country, sells less milk, prices are higher. Makes sense. But milk is a huge industry for NZ, a huge part of the economy. It goes all over the world – it probably produces as much milk as the UK. And yet the domestic market gets a higher price. It’s likely down to the monopoly Fonterra has over the NZ dairy industry. They’re the only one in the game, they set the prices, and there’s only two supermarket chain to barter with.
Britain, on the other hand, has at least 7 supermarket chains, all ready to claw each other’s eyes out in a desperate, blood-soaked grapple for my cash.
Which is why such a thing exists as 17p own-brand cola. Sure, it tastes like severely watered down imitation vanilla essence with an aftertaste of chewed paracetamol – but that’s not really the point. The point is, it cost 17p. At this price, it costs more not to buy it.