Running a household in Iceland is 66% more expensive in Iceland than it is in the European Union, RÚV reports. This was among the findings presented by economist Gylfi Magnússon during his talk at a conference held by the Consumer Association of Iceland and the Icelandic Confederation of Labour.
Gylfi found that even when compared with some of the most expensive countries in Europe, Iceland did not come out well. “Expenses in Iceland were 17% higher than in Denmark, which was the most expensive country in the European Union in 2017,” he remarked. “And we managed to even overtake the Norwegians in this respect, and Norway is usually the most expensive country in mainland Europe.”
Gylfi asserted that Iceland’s small market size worked against it. Many Icelandic companies, he said, are too small and inefficient. Moreover, shipping expenses aren’t always transparent and are higher in Iceland than they are in other places. He also noted that the prices of items sold in international chain stores, such as Lindex, Bauhaus, and H&M, are an average of 20% higher in Iceland than they are abroad.
Surprisingly, even resources that the country has in excess end up costing more in Iceland. “According to estimates made by Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Union, on the cost of certain kinds of food products in Europe, the price of fish in Iceland is considerably higher than it is, on average, in other places,” said Gylfi. “It was an average of 8% higher in Iceland than in the European Union in 2017.”
“It’s an undeniably good thing that fish isn’t imported into Iceland, but exported from it,” he continued. Every day, boats and ships stream into the biggest harbours of the country with the choicest fish. The largest markets are usually not far away. There are, for example, three out at Grandi [a seaside district on the west side of Reykjavík], around 500 meters from the harbour. And yet, the price of fish is higher here than in Hungary, for instance, or the Czech Republic, neither of which have shorelines. So in this case, it can hardly be blamed on shipping costs—it something else.”