The single market offers consumers thousands of models of electric and electronic goods, but the actual offer and price range is very different across Member States. The European Commission analysed the issue comparing 10 product categories within the electronics and electrical goods.
The study shows that there are clear price differences of up to 35% in the EU Member States.
The following 10 product categories have been analysed: Electronics: Flat screen televisions, digital cameras, media players, PC notebooks; Electrical goods: refrigerators, washing machines, microwave ovens, vacuum cleaners, coffee makers and irons.
Results of the study
Despite increased globalisation, electrical and electronics goods industry is a major segment of our economy, both in terms of production and retail sector.
According to figures from 2008/2009 the employment in these sectors is over 4.3 mio, with a value added of more than €220 bn.
The study analyses market production conditions and product developments, the structure of the retail market, and it focused on price convergence and dispersion.
The study not only compares products' prices across the Union, but it also shows them in relation to consumers' choices when it comes to online shopping or energy-efficient appliances.
More findings are:
- For product categories where the share of Internet as a sales channel is higher, the prices usually converge more across the EU. However, online sales still play just a complementary role to the offline sales.
- Except for Denmark and Slovakia, a higher level of concentration of retailers is linked with a lower price level of electrical and electronic products. This could indicate the positive effects of economies of scale.
- The vast majority of refrigerators and washing machines sold represent a high energy efficiency class. At the same time, the share of sales of A+ products does not seem to be correlated with higher average income levels. Consumers pay up to 35% more for a refrigerator and up to 18% more for a washing machine with a higher energy class. The difference in energy consumption is respectively 20% and 10% for these two product categories.
The study confirms that the European industry is strong, notably when it comes to the manufacture of electrical home appliances such as dishwashers, and washing machines. As in many other sectors, the supply and value chain has been globalised for the last few decades.
While Europe is the leading global player for electrical products, companies in the electronic goods sector face strong competition from the US and Japan. The new Member States managed to improve their position in the electronic market, but the total EU value added kept decreasing.
Europe is the leading global player in the electrical goods sector. In contrast to US and Japanese competitors, EU value added in this sector increased between 2000 and 2008.
In the electronics goods sector, however, EU total output is well behind both Japan and the US. Furthermore, European value added in the electronics sector decreased between 2000 and 2008.
It may be noted that in terms of consumption, electronics products generally have higher sales per person (though more volatile), and higher growth predictions, than electrical goods.
The retail market decreased for both sectors around 2009, with the downturn setting in earlier in the sector for electrical goods, which decreased between 2007 and 2009. The electronics goods market turned did not turn negative until 2009.