While we often look at foreign currency exchange rates with our minds on our holidays and how much the food will cost us abroad (see my previous post), they affect us in other ways when we are still at home.

A strong pound can affect British businesses, impacting their export sales as their products cost more abroad and therefore fewer people buy them. The opposite, of course, is true – a strong pound makes importing foreign goods cheaper, and a weak pound makes it more expensive. With so many consumer electronics made abroad, this affects us at home.

I’ve been watching the price of camera equipment, much of which is made in Japan. A year ago, there were more than 200 Yen to the pound, which meant that buyers over here could get a good deal on lenses and the like. However, compare this graph of the cost of a Canon lens with this graph of the pound vs. the Yen. As the pound dropped as low as 122 Yen, vendors in the UK have had to increase their prices almost £100 (on that lens – more expensive products have gone up more).

As the pound gathers strength, it is climbing back up against the Yen and the cost of consumer electronics will come back down. With the country still in a recession, retailers will be competing for sales and should therefore lower their prices as soon as the rates get more favourable – passing the savings on to us! I hope so, at least – I really want that lens.

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Consumer Goods, Foreign Currency

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