(Argentina) Argentina’s clothing prices soar: in which countries is it more expensive to buy a pair of jeans, trainers and a dress?

Clothing and footwear rose almost 10% in April, above the 6% inflation rate. With this rate of increase, the price of clothing in dollars is approaching that of the most expensive countries.

Buenos Aires is among the most expensive places to buy a basket of jeans, a dress and a pair of trainers, according to a private comparative exercise.

Buying a Zara or H&M summer dress is more convenient in the United States than in Argentina. The same goes for a pair of Levi’s jeans. When it comes to buying a pair of mid-range running shoes, meanwhile, Santiago de Chile is the cheapest of the three.

Clothing prices in Argentina are rising fast. Among the different items measured by the Indec in its consumer price index, clothing and footwear stood out above all the rest with an increase of 9.9%, well above the 6% increase in the general price level.

In year-on-year terms, the clothing category rose 73.4% compared with the same month in 2021, compared with the 58% rise in the consumer price index. Only restaurants and hotels matched the rise in this chapter.

In short, buying clothes and footwear in Argentina is expensive. And it keeps getting more expensive, even at a faster rate than the rest of the prices and services.

This skyrocketing in clothing prices made the comparison between prices in local shops and those in other parts of the world change radically in the last few weeks. Today, buying clothes and shoes is more expensive in Brazil and Australia. But doing it in Argentina became more expensive than in 6 out of 8 other countries selected in a report.

The FMyA consultancy firm has been carrying out its “Numbeo Exercise” for several years, in which it uses data from the Numbeo website for crowdsorcing price data from around the world to compare prices in different countries. And in its latest version it detected a totally anomalous behaviour of shoe and clothing prices in Argentina.

Based on a basket of 3 products – a Levi’s Jean, a summer dress and Nike mid-range running shoes – the exercise found that prices in Argentina accelerated the most in the last nine weeks compared to a group of 8 selected countries.

The most expensive place in the world to buy that basket, always measured in US dollars, is Sydney, Australia, with a total cost of USD 329.53. It is followed by Sao Paulo, Brazil, at USD 327.86 for the same package of products. Argentina, meanwhile, comes in third in the comparison with a cost of USD 290 in total. Spain, Colombia, Peru, Mexico and Chile are cheaper places to buy the same. And the cheapest of all is the US, with a cost of USD 167.32 in total.

In fact, Argentina measured in dollars is cheap in terms of food prices but expensive in terms of shoes and clothing.

“Last week, Alberto Fernandez commented with surprise that despite protecting the textile industry, prices are still rising. Logically, the reasoning is the opposite: a characteristic of protectionism is the rise of local prices higher than the rest of the prices”, reflected Fernando Marull of FMyA in a report.

“In fact, looking at relative prices since 2017, clothing prices fell by almost 20% until the end of Macri’s government, and in Fernández’s government they rose 35% relative to the rest. Likewise, other sectors such as Food and Restaurants started to rise as well, while utility prices (Electricity, Gas, Water) have been plummeting, generating distortions in the price system and changes in consumption habits,” he added.

“Therefore, we update the Goods and Services price exercise based on the Numbeo (collaborative database), which contains prices of comparable goods around the world. For Food, we have a basket of various supermarket products and Textiles (includes a Jean + Zara Women’s Dress + Nike Running Shoes). In the case of food, the basket includes 5 litres of milk, 3.5kilos of rice, chicken, half a litre of beer, 7.5 litres of water and 2.8 kg of apple. In Argentina, the cost of this food basket is USD 23 and in the US it is USD 68. Therefore, we multiply this by 4 weeks to give a more normal cost. The consumption basket would be USD 91 per month in Argentina, USD 100 per month in Brazil and USD 271 per month in the United States,” the economist continued.

“However, if we compare the evolution of the food and textile basket in Argentina with the same basket in Brazil, Chile or Spain, we can see that the textile basket in Argentina has been rising and is the most expensive in all the selected countries. On the other hand, Argentina’s Food basket is the cheapest in the comparison, both compared to Brazil or Mexico and compared to Spain or the United States”, he concluded.

Which countries are more convenient

The exercise also shows where it is more convenient to buy each of the items in the Numbeo basket. Thus, for example, the price of jeans stands out for its lower value in the USA, where it is available from USD 45 and in Mexico, where it starts at USD 55.83 per pair.

Sydney, meanwhile, is the worst place to buy: it is above USD 111.

The USA also stands out in terms of the price of a summer dress, with USD 37.50 being the floor of the sample. The most expensive is Brazil, at USD 77.52.

Finally, when comparing the footwear in the sample, the cheapest destination is Chile with its price of USD 47.77, while the most expensive is Australia at USD 142.14 per pair.