It is common knowledge that London prices are much higher than that of the rest of the UK. However, I have heard that this isn't strictly true; the prices of most typical purchases from food and drink, going to the cinema, through to buying a new TV are much the same as elsewhere. Often quoted average London prices are the result of there being more high-end establishments, skewing the mean, but not actually raising cost for the typical shopper. There are a few things which blatantly cost more than elsewhere, such as the the cost of housing, but the idea is that this is the exception not the rule.

Anecdotally I've found this to indeed be the case. I've been to London a number of times and haven't noticed paying more in restaurants, pubs or supermarkets than elsewhere. As such I've assumed the above to be true and stated it as such to a friend at the weekend. However, it occurs to me that I may be entirely wrong in this as I only have evidence which is either anecdotal or that I've heard at some point from some forgotten source. I have tried to find some more concrete evidence one way or the other but haven't found much other that the previously mentioned "average" prices which do not note whether the average they refer to is the mean or the median price.

I am therefore wondering: are median London prices actually higher than that of the rest of the UK, or are there simply more high end establishments skewing the mean?

To help demonstrate my line of thinking, here are some examples. Would I pay more in London than the rest of the UK for: a weekly shop at a Sainsbury's? A pint of Peroni at an equal-quality pub? A steak at an equal-quality family restaurant? A movie ticket at the Vue cinema?

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    here's a quick comparison with Birmingham, the site will allow you to compare with a number of other UK cities: numbeo.com/cost-of-living/…
    – MD-Tech
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 12:04
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    I've come across similar sites while reading around, but as with the others I can't see any indication of whether or not these values are median or mean, which is the primary reason for my question. That said, it is interesting that there is a 50p difference in "McMeal at McDonalds", as I'm not sure there is such a thing as an "upmarket McDonalds" to skew the mean.
    – AzCopey
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 12:14
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    Not sure about London, though I'd assume it's the same, but in Silicon Valley housing is several times the rest of the country, but most other things are "only" more like 0-50% more.
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 20:22
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    In my experience, a typical pub in Coventry will sell beer for £2-£3 per pint, while in London the same beer would be £3-£4 or more in what I would consider the same level of establishment. I would be surprised if supermarkets were much different though. Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 13:47
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    I found the raw data at ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/datasets/… so will process it when I get chance. There are 127000 ish data points so don't expect me to be quick!
    – MD-Tech
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 13:50

2 Answers 2


Having shopped in Sainsbury's in London and outside London within the same week, I can assure you that a full size Sainsbury's store in London charges more for the same goods than one outside, and that their "Local" stores charge more again. And that their prices everywhere increased shortly after the Brixit decision.

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    I'd think everything would be driven by property prices. If Sainsbury's wants to open a store in London, the land and/or building space will cost much more than it would in say Market Blandings, and workers probably have to be paid more to cover the cost of their housing. So Sainsbury's either has to raise prices in its London store to cover the increased cost, or let the rest of the country subsidize an unprofitable London store.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Dec 17, 2017 at 19:15
  • I've given this the green tick, thank you :) I was hoping for something more concrete than this, but I think it is enough to confirm that my line of thinking was incorrect.
    – AzCopey
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 13:28

In short, Yes. Some things very little (groceries etc) others a lot- you can draw a map of (pint of) beer prices across the country (which is a proxy for many other things). Cinema prices also are higher.

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