Daily commodities such as groceries and clothing are more expensive in Seoul than in other major cities across the world, a survey has found.
The Bank of Korea (BOK) said in Foreign Economic Focus on Dec. 1, “Despite a recent sharp fall in consumer price growth, many Korean people think that consumer prices in Korea are still high." The BOK added, “Koreans perceive consumer prices in Seoul to be actually higher than in other major cities around the world.”
The central bank attributed higher perceived consumer prices in Seoul to expensive groceries and clothing. According to Numbeo, a global statistics database site, Seoul’s groceries price index (rice, bread, meat and fruits) is 128.8, far surpassing New York (111.7), Tokyo (101.2). Paris (95.8) and London (62.7).
Especially in terms of the consumer price index of clothing, including blue jeans, dresses and shoes, Seoul stands at 332.8, higher than New York (298.2), Tokyo (319.3) and London (314.7).
Meanwhile, the cost of eating out in Seoul is low and the prices of communication and transportation, which are actually controlled by the government, are far less expensive than in major cities of other countries. “The consumer price index for living necessaries in Seoul ranked 26th out of 337 world cities,” said a BOK official, adding, “It was lower than that in Zurich, New York and Tokyo, but higher than that in Paris, London and Hong Kong."
Higher perceived consumer prices in Seoul result from its relatively low wages compared with other advanced nations and higher cost of rent. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the average wage in Korea was US$39,472 last year, 43.43 million won when converted to the annual exchange rate of 1,100.30 won per US$1.00. The average wage in Seoul ranks 20th out of the 35 surveyed countries.
According to Cushman & Wakefield, the cost of rent in downtown Seoul reaches 1.4 times the average rent of 30 world cities which have high cost of rent. “Differences in countries’ consumer price index stem from differences in wages as well as other costs such as rent, labor and distribution,” said the BOK.