Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.57 15 Jun 2021


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Prices going up are another sign that the country is returning to normal.

That's according to Irish Times consumer journalist Conor Pope, who said coupled with that is the rise in people complaining about them.

He told The Hard Shoulder this is good news.

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"I'm actually really relieved to be talking to you about this, because it's a sign that things are getting back to normal.

"We're no longer talking about an endless lockdown and people being shut out of pubs and cafés, restaurants and hotels.

"We're going back to what we're good at: which is complaining about prices".

Conor said we have to remember where we are now, compared to last year.

"To be fair, I'd cut the publicans a lot of slack here... they've had a terrible, terrible 15 months.

"And if you'd told me three months ago that I could get to my local pub and pay and extra 30c, 20c or 50c for a pint of Guinness I would have crawled over glass to get to it.

"The publicans, the restauranteurs, the hospitality sector across the board they've had a terrible time.

"But not only that - when they're doing business in the weeks and months ahead, they're going to have an awful lot of additional overheads that simply didn't exist this time two years ago.

"And they're also going to have a dramatically reduced clientele.

"I'm not suggesting that pubs should have a free-for-all and be able to up their prices by a €1 or €2 a pint, because... the market won't bear that.

"If one pub increases it's prices by €1, people will just migrate to the pub that's increased its prices by 10c, 15c or 20c.

"And I think that's the nature of the business".

But Conor said the fact that people are having these discussions is a good thing.

"It is actually heartening to hear people giving out about it, because it is another sign - and Lord knows we need all these signs - that things are getting back to normal.

"And that hopefully someday soon we'll be able to forget about the pandemic and to start giving out like we normally do."

Ireland seen as 'a premium destination'

Conor explained that an increase in prices was inevitable, for a number of reasons.

"There's all these other pressure points on the supply chain, and all of that is putting pressure on people who can ill-afford to have that pressure applied.

"Then you have to factor in the consequences of Brexit, the increased costs in shipping, and the fact that the construction workers are going to be in much higher demand.

"And as a result people who are getting extensions, or who are getting work done, to accommodate outdoor dining or drinking - they're going to have to pay a premium for it.

"So it's almost like a perfect storm - and that's why I think we should all take a deep breath.

"Now it is important to say: there's a difference between modest price increases and price gouging.

"And we have seen price gouging in Ireland before."

Conor has this advice: "If you feel like you're being gouged, certainly don't go back a second time... that just makes absolutely no sense".

And he added that prices in Ireland are geared towards a 'premium' market.

"People in Ireland need to remember: Ireland, as a tourist destination, is seen internationally as a premium destination.

"If you go to the Costa del Sol or the Algarve or Greece - they're not seen as premium holiday destinations.

"An awful lot of us are accustomed to travelling to Spain, Italy, France or Portugal - or wherever it might be - and we love that fact that we can eat out for a family of five for €50 including a bottle of wine.

"And we really like the fact that you can buy yourself a nice espresso in Rome for €1, and all these things, but that's not what Irish tourism is about.

"The market here, in many respects, is geared towards other people - people from outside of this country".

Conor Pope: Irish people back to what we're good at - complaining

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

Main image: Composite image shows Conor Pope (left) in 2016 and a file photo of euro banknotes. Picture by: Brian McEvoy/martaposemuckel from Pixabay  

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