Buying Christmas gifts in New Caledonia

2012 US Christmas Gift Spending
Infographic by-


Of late, I’ve been thinking about how much we spend on Christmas gifts in different places around the world – and how people manage to do it.

Above, you can see that the average spent per US family on Christmas gifts is $548 (or €416 or XPF 49,683).

The French, on the other hand, spend approximately $455 on Christmas gifts (or €346 or XPF 41,289).

I have yet to see the figures for New Caledonians, but given the prices here, the above budgets would be blown out of the water within minutes, as we will see below.

I’ve done some research on the prices on a random pick of 5 hit gifts this year in the United States and France, so that you can see just how expensive Christmas gifts are for New Caledonians.

The prices are sourced from sites and stores in the 3 countries and are presented in each of the 3 currencies to help you compare according to your currency.

 In US dollars ($) United States France New Caledonia
Child’s book on judo  Not available  $    8.25  $    19.84
Lego Star Wars Ewok Attack set  $    34.95  $  28.83  $    89.30
Wonderbook: Book of Spells with Super Slim Playstation3 console  $  318.99  $289.56  $  551.02
iPad 4 (16 GB, wifi)  $  499.00  $660.74  $  859.82
iPad Smart cover  $    39.00  $  51.33  $    68.35
 In euros (€) United States France New Caledonia
Child’s book on judo  Not available  €             6.27  €                15.08
Lego Star Wars Ewok Attack set  €             26.55  €           21.90  €                67.88
Wonderbook: Book of Spells with Super Slim Playstation3 console  €           242.35  €         219.99  €              418.83
iPad 4 (16 GB, wifi)  €           379.12  €         502.00  €              653.55
iPad Smart cover  €             29.63  €           39.00  €                51.96
 In French Pacific francs (XPF) United States France New Caledonia
Child’s book on judo  Not available  XPF         748.21  XPF    1,800.00
Lego Star Wars Ewok Attack set  XPF    3,168.65  XPF      2,613.37  XPF    8,100.00
Wonderbook: Book of Spells with Super Slim Playstation3 console  XPF  28,920.42  XPF    26,251.79  XPF  49,980.00
iPad 4 (16 GB, wifi)  XPF  45,240.57  XPF    59,904.53  XPF  77,990.00
iPad Smart cover  XPF    3,535.84  XPF      4,653.94  XPF    6,200.00

You can see from scanning this that books, toys and technology can cost anywhere from three times as much (for the smaller items) and almost twice as much for technology in New Caledonia. Well above the average 34% price difference estimated 2 months ago.

If a family were to purchase all 4 items except for the book in each of the countries, this is how much they would be over the French and US budgets mentioned above:

United States: $345 over gift budget of $548.

France: €437 over gift budget of €346.

And if we were to assume the lower budget of €346 for New Caledonia, if New Caledonians purchased the same 4 items in New Caledonia, they would be over budget by €846 (or $1,114)!

Book of spells in NoumeaWhat gives? We’ve learned from speaking to store managers and shop owners that they are paying a 40% importation tax on merchandise in addition to another significant state tax that goes towards schools, roadworks, etc. So let’s assume, for argument’s sake, they’re taxed 60% on incoming merchandise. An article of €1 becomes €1.60. And then they need to pay rent, their employees, electricity, everything involved in getting the item into a store and sold. I obviously do not hold a degree in business, but all this may be another 40% – bringing us to €2 for a given item.

How do we get to 3 times the price of Legos and books, I wonder? As individuals, we no longer pay tax on books when we order them – do businesses? Or are books and Legos considered luxury items – only purchased by those who can afford them?

How do New Caledonians do it? I’ve been told that:

1. They save and pool their money.

2. They purchase items during the sales in January and June/July.

3. They purchase in bulk – for the full year, rather than buying gifts when they need them (birthdays, Christmas).

4. They purchase the smaller-ticket items.

Things like coupons are non-existent, fidelity cards and points are rare. Discount stores exist – but the quality of the merchandise is not always what one would wish. So the only real way to save money is to buy less, buy little, buy early and save up.

A coming post will run a comparison on prices if one were to order a selection of items and pay for shipping and taxes. I want to see how much more expensive it is to order from abroad when shipping and taxes are factored in. Most of the people I talk to tell me it would be too expensive to do it this way (and there is the risk of loss, damage and what to do about guarantees) – and so end up buying locally. And paying the prices you see above for Christmas gifts (or not).

Okay, so no iPads or Playstations this Christmas – better in more ways than one, after all, to go outside and play!


7 thoughts on “Buying Christmas gifts in New Caledonia

  1. Hi, thank you for the great article. This is very interesting (and sad in the same time). Currently I live in Noumea and I expected prices of imported goods to be very high (not THIS high but still..). However what really disturbs me are the prices of services and long delay (especially in banks and in OPT for internet connection)… anyway, Merry Christmas and keep up the good work 🙂

    • Thanks a million – and yes, telecommunications and banking are far more expensive here than most places in the world. A blog post on this to come. Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season.

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