Jump to content
  • Sign in to follow this  

    Comparing LEGO Retail Purchase Prices Across Regions


    The differences in retail prices that Lego attracts across different countries and regions is an often talked about subject. There is always a feeling that Lego, both with its own stores and online shop and with the suggested retail prices that most big Lego retailers use, doesn’t exactly play “fair” when it comes to pricing. The reasons for that are many and varied and are beyond the scope of this article. But what I would like to do is present some evidence that may help put into perspective some of the retail pricing discrepancies.

    A couple of months ago Brickpicker expanded the information available to us to include data from 3 regions outside of the established US Ebay results. The UK, Australia (AUS), and Germany (EU) were all added to the information pages for each set. Along with the Ebay sales data we also have a small section showing the retail price of each set. It is comparing these prices that I would like to focus on.

    For the purpose of this exercise I gathered the retail prices for 345 sets released in 2011 or later across many different themes. These 345 sets had retail prices available for each of the 4 regions. There are plenty of sets that have no retail price available in one or more regions so those were excluded. 345 sets should give us plenty of coverage to examine any differences.

    To compare the prices in a meaningful way first we need to convert them to a common currency. So I took all the prices for the other three regions and converted them to US$ prices using the latest currency exchange rates as follows:

    Posted Image

    Now all the prices are converted we can compare the averages across the 345 sets:

    Posted Image

    From that picture you can see all the regions above the US in terms of pricing. “Aha, but wait!” some of you may be saying, “What about sales taxes like VAT?”. A very good question! Each region has a different form of sales tax added into the retail price. The UK and Germany have VAT (Value Added Tax) and Australia has GST (Goods and Services Tax). In the US the sales tax depends on which state you are in and is added on top of the retail price when you pay. Therefore to compare prices accurately we need to remove the sales tax component from the regional prices at the current rate:

    Posted Image

    VAT was increased to 20% in the UK in 2011 so that was another reason to limit the set data to that year and after to make things easier to analyse.

    We can now look at the averages for each region with the sales taxes removed:

    Posted Image

    Things are a lot more even now. The UK is almost identical to the US and the EU price is 5.0% higher. Aus is still up there 28.9% higher than the US though. This gives us a snapshot of how current retail market prices differ at the overall average level. I then wondered if there was any differences between themes. So here is a look at the 345 sets broken down by themes and ranked based on the variance of the average of the 3 other regions compared to the US:

    Posted Image

    This table throws up some stark differences in the prices across the themes. You can see that Spongebob has the highest variance but only 4 sets, followed by the heavy hitting Super Heroes theme whose 18 sets are on average 28.1% higher than the US. 50.5% higher in Australia in fact! Interestingly we have the Technic set at the bottom, where apart from Australia the other 2 regions enjoy a decent discount below the US price. This is probably why the recent sales on some Technic sets at Amazon.uk have proved to be very popular with members here, with many importing them from the UK to the US at excellent prices even after shipping costs. City is another big theme where the variance is positive for those two regions as well.

    How about the best (I guess best depends on which country you are in), or highest and lowest individual sets? Starting with the lowest:

    The lowest i.e. the set with the lowest prices in other regions compared to the US goes to the 7553 City 2011 Advent Calendar which is an average 35.2% lower than the US retail price. In fact the top (bottom?) three spots are taken up by advent calendars with the 9509 SW one and the 2012 City one coming in next. The 42007 Moto-cross Bike comes in next with -20.4% difference, certainly one to look out for perhaps if another sale comes up.

    The highest i.e. the set with the highest prices in other regions compared to the US is the 6873 Spider-Man's Doc Ock Ambush set with an eye-watering 58.9% average premium in the other regions compared to the US. 6867 Loki's Cosmic Cube Escape with 57.2% and 6866 Wolverine's Chopper Showdown with 57.2% as well. So if you live outside the US and are shopping for those Super Heroes sets it look like it could be a good option to import them from the US. All dependent on what sort of retailer discounts are on and shipping/customs costs of course.

    Conclusion

    Currency exchange rates do fluctuate and these can have quite a bearing on the differences between the regional prices. For example the AUD was trading at above $US1 for quite a while earlier this year before dropping 10% in value recently. This is probably one of the main reasons that Lego prices things differently due to what currency rates they have locked in long term through hedging mechanisms etc. Because of these changes I may look to update this info perhaps quarterly or 6 monthly.

    The overall differences between the regions after sales tax removal have been less than I had envisaged. Though the swings between different themes and individual sets with them have been wider than I thought. It would seem Lego likes to price things not only on currency but what the market may bear. I’ll leave the possible reasons for another discussion or feel free to post your thoughts in the comments below.

    Sign in to follow this  


    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    The true scam is Canadian prices, which seem to be 20-25% higher on average in my experience, even though our and US currencies are at or close enough to par consistently and we are right next door, making distribution rather simple and cost effective.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Great that someone finally got around to doing this! Interesting that your research confirmed my impression that especially the licensed themes are cheaper in the U.S. than elsewhere. 

     

    The most extreme example I've seen so far is the 79108 Stagecoach Escape within the Lone Ranger Theme:

     

    U.S. Price: $29.99

    Price in my country (the Netherlands): € 54,99 (=$72,86), so a 143% price difference (probably around 100% more expensive excluding tax differences).

     

    This is a set I certainly won't be buying at my local retail price.

     

    Lego's official explanation for price differences, by the way, is this:

     

    Why are there differing prices for each country when shopping online?

     

     

    When comparing prices for LEGO sets in different countries, please be aware that country-specific factors play a part. These are outside of our control (i.e. differences in value-added tax) and contribute to products being offered at different prices in different countries.

    (look under "Online Shopping" at http://service.lego.com/en-us/helptopics)

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Canadian prices are indeed pretty high Jeff, do they have sales tax added in there?

     

    Thanks for you comments Bernard.  I too have been given that generic canned response when enquiring about regional pricing differences.  You are right about the licensed themes being at the top end of the differences. Maybe something about the competitiveness of the respective markets for those particular toy ranges is the main reason behind that.

     

    I know that from now on my first look for licensed theme sets will be the US and the others like Technic and City I'll be checking the UK first.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    Only recently have we begun to see improved RRP in Australia, and it seems retail stores are turning over their stock alot faster due to putting them on clearance sales quicker. Lego still falls back into bad habits though, such as $69.95 retail price for the DeLorean. The smart thing they did was implement free shipping at S@H. Can you imagine Australian prices with a minimum $40 price hike on them for freightage?

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    As a canadian, yes I can attest to the fact that our prices are no where near prime. But we don't have it nearly as bad as some folks in Europe, Asia, and Oceania.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I live in Asia, Indonesia to be exact. The pricing is awful compared to US. For Example :

    Modular Grand Emporium US retailed for 149 USD, in our country you could see retailed for 220 to 300 USD. 220USD is considered a good deal. But, in US, do you get average 10 percent tax for buying such a Grand Emporium set =149 + 15 = around 165 USD or some states dont tax? I'm curious..

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    13 % taxes for Ontarions. 7% in NY State. Since I live on the border, I purchase the smaller sets in Canada and purchase the larger sets from the US. Picked up 70403 today and after conversion and taxes and the cost of picking it up, I saved around $10.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I have to agree with the comments from my fellow Canadians.

     

    @Gromlin, great analysis. Would you be able to compare Canadian prices to the price in other countries in those charts? It will give proof to the fact that Canadian pricing is bad and that we're not just whining about it.

     

    TIA

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Retail sales tax varies by province, from a low of 5% in Alberta to a high of 13% in Ontario. Certainly we don't have it as bad as other countries that are farther away from the US, but there is a perpetual dissatisfaction in Canada about the differing prices here vs the US for all manner of goods given the close proximity and integration of our economies. Nothing is cheaper here. Even wine made here is more expensive than its price when shipped and sold in the US!!!

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I have to agree with the comments from my fellow Canadians.

     

    @Gromlin, great analysis. Would you be able to compare Canadian prices to the price in other countries in those charts? It will give proof to the fact that Canadian pricing is bad and that we're not just whining about it.

     

    TIA

     

    I'd like to, but Brickpicker doesn't have Canadian data.  What we have is the 4 regions presented that have associated Ebay sales information.

     

    If someone wants to send me a big list of set numbers and Canadian retail prices I'm more than happy to do a follow up blog comparing them to the US.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Another brilliant article.

     

    I have noted some interesting differences on some of the sets I follow between the UK & US pricing.

     

    A set like 9476 Orc Forge is $39.99 & £39.99, so the UK is approx 55% dearer. But sets like VW Camper & Sopwith Camel are $120 & £80; approx the same price.

     

    But when looking at US RRP it is well to remember that it is the price before tax whereas the price for the other 3 regions it is the price after tax. 

     

    Grolim, is there a way to upload the individual entries for the 345 sets? I appreciate this would be a long list. :)

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    Firstly, thank you for writing this article, it does show the difference in the prices between the different regions. I have always wondered if the difference in price is justified. I live in Australia and we have always paid more for Lego than in the other regions listed such as the US, UK and EU. I do understand that we do not have the market like the other regions. I also understand that the cost of shipping the items would also increase the price. A good example at the moment is the Lego Back to the Future DeLorean. In the US, it sells for $35 (http://search2.lego.com/?q=delorean〈=2057&cc=US) . In Australia, it sells for $70 (http://shop.lego.com/en-AU/The-DeLorean-time-machine-21103). This is double the price! If there is any need to justify the cost gap, here is a good item to ask it about. I know that there a postage forwarding services in the US that would allow me to send the item to a state-side address and then I could have it shipped from there to Australia. As to if this is worth the expense and the time has yet to be determined. What your article also shows is that for some investors out there, the cost of setting up the portfolio can be prohibitive to being able to stock up enough items to be able to make a profit, yet alone break even. That said, where some sellers have shipping prohibitions such as Amazon, there are others such as eBay that do not have any issues with the region the item is being sent to. As an isolated market, Australia does not have any Lego stores. We buy our Lego from department stores either in person or online. These items are frequently on sale but the range is generally at the lower end of the product range and the larger, exclusive items are rarely stocked and have to be sourced from Lego directly. In some ways it is almost worth seeing what it takes to set up a business to allow you to deal with distributors in order to make bulk purchases at a wholesale rate. One last thing, the difference in the currency does make a difference. When the Austrailian dollar was worth $1.05US, I enjoyed looking at the sets on eBay. Now that the Australian dolllar is worth $0.90US, the investing experience is not the same..

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    Thanks for the great article. While from the LEGO perspective it might make sense to compare the before tax Prices, when buying things comparing the after tax Prices is very interesting as well. I live in Germany, so I pay the Price including VAT. No way around it as Long as I act as a private Person and not a Business. And in the US I pay the sales tax on top.

    So I do like to shop some sets in the US and bring them back when I travel. But I can only Import a Little over 500,- USD (430 EUR) of stuff. Anything above that, I have to pay VAT plus some customs on top of the US Price including US sales tax. And very often that makes it not so interesting.

    Now of course if you get a good deal in the US like a 30 % off sale it is still worth it.

    Regarding regular sets (anything that is not exclusive to LEGO stores over here, which is almost anything eventually except CUUSO) I can rely on getting the sets at 20 % less than suggested Price, because TRU over here at least two or three times a year has a "20 % of all LEGO" sale, which usually gets matched by Amazon and some of the other large online Players.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I know that this discussion has been covered on other LEGO fan sites, but doesn't the cost of LEGO in individual countries have more to do with the import taxes LEGO has to pay in order to get those goods into the country to sell? I have been told that is the reason LEGO is so expensive in Canada as compared to the US market, simply because Canada has restrictive import taxes on toys (has something to do with MEGABRANDS being a Canadian company).

     

    I guess to consider that would collapse this whole discussion about price variety across the world. If LEGO has to pay more to get it's products in the country for sale...you have to know they are going to pass that cost along to the vendors, who in turn pass it along to the consumer.

     

    Source Material: http://www.fbtb.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=3229 information is dated, but was provided by an official employee of TLG at the time.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites


    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
    Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

    Guest
    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

    Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...