While Icelanders bemoaned the effects of the financial crisis in 2008, dollar- and euro-carrying tourists rejoiced that the notoriously expensive island had suddenly become more affordable. And if this wasn’t obvious in November 2008, Iceland’s international airport greeted tourists with a sign that read “Welcome to HALFPRICELAND: Are you here for the nature or the exchange rate?”
Indeed the króna lost half its value against those currencies, but that’s only half of the post-crash story. The airport ad overlooked the fact that goods and services on the import-dependent island had become 30% more expensive. So it wasn’t exactly a countrywide 50% off sale, but a sale is a sale and aren’t we all suckers for a sale?
The ad was taken down a few months later after a number of Icelanders took issue with its lack of tact rather than its false marketing. Nonetheless, tourists have continued to visit Iceland in record numbers every year post-crash, almost outnumbering the nation’s 319,575 inhabitants two-fold this last year.
If these tourists are still coming to enjoy the favourable exchange rate, they should know that goods and services are now on average 60% more expensive than they were before the crash. So Iceland is only 25% cheaper than it was when it seemed so prohibitively expensive in 2007. But, happy shopping!
NAVIGATING THE POST-CRASH “SALE”
The following post-crash sale* recommendations are based on the price of goods and services listed by Statistics Iceland (www.statice.is) one year pre-crash, in November 2007, and four years post-crash, in November 2012.
OH YEAH, WHAT A STEAL!
Do buy men’s socks. They are only 16% more expensive than they were in 2007. That makes them 46% off for tourists.
Do buy a can of Pilsner. It has decreased in price by 2%. That makes it 50% off for tourists. But do note that this is light beer. Real alcohol can only be purchased at state-run liquor stores called Vínbúð.
Do buy light chocolate (but not dark chocolate). It has decreased by a whopping 13%. That’s 59% off for tourists.
Do buy forcemeat, if you dare. It has not increased in price, which means it’s 53% off.
Do buy diet Orangeade. It has increased in price by 29%, which makes it 40% off. You can find obscure sodas like Orangeade at Drekinn on Frakkastígur.
Do buy a lottery ticket. It has only increased 10% and you could win LOADS of money.
WATCH OUT, RIP-OFF!
Don’t buy fruit unless you are in danger of contracting scurvy. Apples, pears, grapes and raisins have increased in price by more than 130%. They are not sale items. In fact, they were a better deal for tourists in 2007.
Don’t buy a pair of jeans. Their price has increased 119%, which makes them 2% more expensive for tourists today compared to 2007.
Don’t buy a lady’s woollen pullover. It has increased in price by 145%, which is a 14% mark-up for tourists.
Don’t buy frozen shrimp. Their price has gone up by 122%. That’s a 3% mark-up.
Don’t buy a refrigerator. It has increased in price by 115%, which means it’s simply not on sale. This is a bad deal. Don’t be deceived, tourists.
Don’t buy snuff. It is 151% more expensive. That’s a 17% mark-up. Not to mention, it’s pretty gross.
*The “sale” has been calculated based on the exchange rates listed by Iceland’s Central Bank on November 1, 2007 (1 USD to 58,79 ISK) and again on November 1, 2012 (1 USD to 126,11 ISK).