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In the market for a Christmas shopping bargain

Press release   •   Nov 18, 2013 11:21 GMT

- Budapest and Riga are bargain choices for a Christmas Markets break this autumn
- 2012 best buy Tallinn drops to eighth place in Post Office® Christmas Markets Barometer table as    costs rise 15 per cent (www.postoffice.co.uk/christmasmarkets)
- Survey of 12 European cities shows Lille is cheapest in the Eurozone

Rising prices mean Tallinn has lost its top spot to Budapest in the annual Post Office Christmas Markets Barometer, published this week as Advent markets get underway across Europe. Tallinn, the 2012 best buy, now costs 59 per cent more for a two-night break than this year’s bargain choice, Budapest¹.

At £529 for a two-night break for two in early December, Budapest emerged as cheapest of 12 European cities, costing around 39 per cent less than Munich or Basel (both around £866). These were the most expensive cities surveyed for the Post Office Travel Money barometer, which includes two evening meals with wine, coffee, festive drinks and snacks, two nights’ B&B accommodation, return travel and airport-city centre transfers.

Even though sterling is worth just 0.3 per cent more year-on-year against the Hungarian forint², Budapest prices have fallen by 8.8 per cent compared with November 2012. By contrast, barometer prices for meals, drinks and other out-of-pocket expenses have risen 15 per cent to £123 in Tallinn – only partly as a result of a UK pound that is five per cent weaker year-on-year. When these higher prices were added to flight and accommodation charges, the overall total of £841 accounts for the Estonian capital’s fall to eighth position.

Latvia’s capital Riga (£530) was a close runner-up to Budapest (£529) when all the weekend break costs are taken into account - but this was because of the low package price (£378 for two in Riga compared with £450 for Budapest). Once visitors arrive in Riga, they can expect to pay considerably more than in Budapest because Post Office research revealed that meal, drinks and transfer costs were 91 per cent higher (£152 compared with just under £80).

Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money said: “Sterling is up to five per cent weaker than a year ago against European currencies so it is doubly important for people to shop around for the best currency deals and factor in all the costs they will incur on a Christmas Markets trip. For example, meal and drink prices may be higher in Riga than in some other cities, but flight and hotel costs were the lowest we found.

“By contrast, although a meal for two in Prague (£24) is around a quarter the cost in Basel (£106) or Copenhagen (£95), accommodation and flights were among the most expensive. It is a combination of cheap packages and low city costs that make Budapest such good value.”

Despite having the cheapest living costs (£69) of the 12 cities surveyed, Prague fell from third to fifth place in the 2013 table because the cost of a two-night package added £694 to the overall cost of £763 – 44 per cent higher than Budapest.

Third place in the barometer went to Lille (£704), cheapest of seven eurozone cities surveyed. The Eurostar destination was 19 per cent less expensive than Munich (£866), the most expensive eurozone city in the survey. Brussels (£749), another city reached by Eurostar and included for the first time this year, was in fourth place.

Andrew Brown said: “The countdown to Christmas can be a stressful time so we want to help people plan ahead for a cost effective festive season if they’re travelling abroad. The Christmas Markets Barometer is designed to help shoppers get those extra special Christmas gifts as conveniently as possible and at the best possible price. Travelling to a city on Eurostar could be a good solution because of the short travel time and the extra luggage allowed in which to carry Christmas shopping!”

Customers planning city breaks can purchase euro on demand at more than 10,000 Post Office branches, while other currencies in the Christmas Markets Barometer are available over the counter at over 1,600 branches. More than 70 currencies can be pre-ordered at 11,500 Post Office branches or online at postoffice.co.uk for next day branch or home delivery. Post Office Travel Money also offers prepaid euro, Swiss franc or sterling Travel Money Cards, which can be loaded before travel and used like plastic on a shopping break.

The Post Office has just been named by the UK public as the ‘Best Foreign Exchange Provider’ for the seventh year running at the prestigious British Travel Awards.

1The Post Office European Christmas Markets Barometer was compiled using prices sourced from national and regional tourist offices of participating cities, and cross-checked with online research. Package prices were provided by Fred (fredholidays.co.uk) based on flights (Eurostar for Brussels and Lille) departing London on the morning of 7 December and returning on the afternoon/evening of 9 December, with B&B accommodation (two sharing) in the city centre. Prices include hand luggage only on flights and exclude transfers, apart from Trento which includes rail transfers from/to Verona airport.There is no cost for transfers in Basel as a reservation from a city hotel guarantees a free public transport from the station or airport to the hotel (Basel Tourism). The costs for mulled wine and cake in Copenhagen are based on a combined price (divided equally) for Glögg (mulled wine) and æbleskiver (pan-fried cakes).

POST OFFICE CHRISTMAS MARKETS BAROMETER

ITEMS

BUDAPEST

Hungary

RIGA

Latvia

LILLE

France

BRUSSELS

Belgium

PRAGUE

Czech Rep.

TRENTO

Italy

4 x cup of coffee

£4.89

£7.73

£5.22

£6.96

£4.92

£3.48

2 x three-course meal for two including bottle of house wine

£51.45

£128.83

£112.27

£156.66

£47.80

£104.44

2 x return bus or train transfers from airport to city centre

£8.55

£3.61

£15.67

£13.93

£4.50

£0.00

4 x glass mulled wine/punch/Glühwein at Christmas market

£7.33

£7.73

£10.44

£6.96

£6.33

£6.96

4 x piece of cake/gingerbread/Stollen at Christmas market

£7.33

£4.12

£10.44

£6.96

£5.62

£8.70

TOTAL FOR LIVING COSTS

£79.55

£152.02

£154.04

£191.47

£69.17

£123.58

Two-night package with B&B accommodation & flights (Eurostar for Brussels & Lille)

£450.00

£378.00

£550.00

£558.00

£694.00

£658.00

TOTAL INCLUDING PACKAGE

£529.55

£530.02

£704.04

£749.47

£763.17

£781.58

ITEMS

COPENHAGEN

Denmark

TALLINN

Estonia

VIENNA

Austria

BERLIN

Germany

BASEL

Switzerland

MUNICH

Germany

4 x cup of coffee

£14.30

£8.01

£10.10

£7.31

£12.77

£9.05

2 x three-course meal for two including bottle of house wine

£190.64

£90.51

£92.95

£116.62

£212.77

£111.05

2 x return bus or train transfers from airport to city centre

£17.16

£5.57

£13.23

£11.14

£0.00

£29.59

4 x glass mulled wine/punch/Glühwein at Christmas market

£13.11

£12.18

£13.23

£10.44

£14.18

£12.18

4 x piece of cake/gingerbread/Stollen at Christmas market

£13.11

£6.96

£13.93

£8.70

£8.51

£8.70

TOTAL FOR LIVING COSTS

£248.32

£123.23

£143.44

£154.21

£248.23

£170.57

Two-night package with B&B accommodation & flights (Eurostar for Brussels & Lille)

£592.00

£718.00

£698.00

£698.00

£618.00

£696.00

TOTAL INCLUDING PACKAGE

£840.32

£841.23

£841.44

£852.21

£866.23

£866.57

Based on Post Office exchange rates on 7 November 2012

European Christmas Market dates and locations:

Budapest, Hungary: 15 November-31 December, Vörösmarty Square

Riga, Latvia: 1 December-12 January, Dome Square

Lille, France: 20 November-30 December, Place Rihour

Brussels, Belgium: 29 November-5 January, Grand Place

Prague, Czech Republic: 30 November-12 January, Old Town Square

Trento, Italy: 23 November-30 December, Piazza Fiera

Vienna, Austria: 16 November-24 December, City Hall

Copenhagen, Denmark: 15 November-22 December, Tivoli Gardens

Tallinn, Estonia: 23 November-8 January, Town Hall Square

Berlin, Germany: 25 November-31 December, Gendarmenmarkt

Munich, Germany: 29 November–24 December, Marienplatz

Basel, Switzerland: 28 November–23 December, Münsterplatz

2 Post office exchange rate comparisons on 7 November 2013 compared with 7 November 2012:

Currency

% +/- 2013 vs. 2012

Nov 2013

Nov 2012

£400 buys +/-

Hungarian forint

+0.3

327.4779

326.6335

£1.03

Czech koruna

-2.9

28.4530

29.2905

-£11.77

Swiss franc

-3.1

1.4100

1.4550

-£12.77

Latvian lats

-3.9

0.7762

0.8075

-£16.13

Danish kroner

-4.9

8.3930

8.8224

-£20.46

Euro

-5.2

1.1490

1.2120

-£21.93

Contact - Gabrielle O'Gara

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