10 Products That Have Ridiculous Markups

We all understand that a retailer has to make a profit. It is the very basis of the capitalist system.

With that in mind, there are certain products that carry a markup that will make you gasp. Here are ten products that are marked up so much that you will probably get a little angry.

  1. Popcorn at the movies usually carries a 1,275 percent markup. The candy is usually marked up at least 200 percent.
  2. Prescription drugs have been marked up so much that, in the US, the Arizona Attorney General is suing one distributor. With markups that are as high as 3,000 percent it is easy to see why. This is less of an issue in Canada, where drug pricing regulation means brand-name medications are typically cheaper than they are south of the border. However, prescription drug prices are always a concern. A way to get prescription drugs at more affordable prices is by using a Canadian internet pharmacy, which will also save you a trip to the pharmacy.
  3. Diamonds may be a girls best friend, but they are marked up by as much as 400 percent over the wholesale price. That figure triples if you figure the actual cost of mining them.
  4. Bottled water is marked up by 4,000 percent in some cases. Some companies simply bottle the tap water from another city, so why waste the money?
  5. Eyeglass frames are marked up an average of 1,000 percent. You can shop online at optical sites and save plenty of cash.
  6. Alcoholic beverages in a restaurant or bar are usually marked up by at least 400 percent. How often have you paid $5 for a single beer at the local grocery?
  7. Do you enjoy going to your local coffee shop for a beverage? Every drink in that little store is marked up by at least 300 percent.
  8. Designer jeans are a trap for anyone. For example, Super T Jeans, made by True Religion, cost less than $50 to make and ship, but the average retail price for those jeans hits $335. It is easy to imagine plenty of better ways to spend that money.
  9. Cosmetics are a ”necessity” for many people. These products actually have the lowest markup on this list. At a mere 78 percent, cosmetics look like a comparative bargain. However, as Mr. Wonderful said this past Friday on Shark Tank, cosmetics is a super-saturated industry, because only drug-dealers have higher profit margins!
  10. The textbooks that you desperately need for college are usually marked up by a few thousand percent. Unfortunately, many new students do not take advantage of rental opportunities or shop used bookstores that are off campus. With an average bill of $665 a year for new textbooks, it behooves you to look for a better deal.

The moral of the this little story is that you could be wasting a fortune by not buying generics or finding other alternatives. Ask yourself a few questions before you buy anything: Do I need this or just want it, is there a generic version, or can I make this at home? All of these questions could lead to more money in your savings account.

Author Jerry Coffey is a recovering debt addict and master of frugality. He’s a regular contributor to Repaid.org, and you can read about his personal ascent from debt purgatory here.

13 thoughts on “10 Products That Have Ridiculous Markups”

  1. The bottled water one is what pisses me off. Almost anytime I see someone with one, I think, “Are you crazy??!!” Buy a resusable bottle, and reuse it! Your tap water costs WAY LESS than that overpriced bottled stuff. Sometimes I think I should fill up bottles of water from my tap and sell them for lots of money. Seems like a great money maker. 🙂

    1. I will buy bottled water – but that’s only when I’m out of the house (I haven’t brought anything with me) and I’m thirsty. I’ll pick plain water over a pop or flavoured water every time.

      But yeah it sucks that it’s that high priced! Ever heard of Evian water? Try reversing the letters in the name – that’s what their buyers are! haha

      1. I have a confession (on my first trip to Vegas I spent $7 for a bottle of Fiji water at Wynn casino) – I needed to drink something (+40 C).

    2. In some cities they have hard water so I can see drinking bottled water but buying small bottles is not worth it and a waste of resources.

  2. I was told by my girlfriend that they did a case study on this subject at University – and they found that the highest markup in grocery stores was…. cereal!

  3. And did you guys know that a lot of bottled water is PWS (Public Water Source), another name for…tap water! Aquifina is like that, I believe. Consumer Reports did an article on bottled water sources this past summer. It’s crazy!

  4. Regarding the incredibly expensive candy and popcorn in the movie theatre I have it claimed that this is where the theatre makes its money, not on the movie itself. Weird logic but there might be some truth in it.

  5. Renting textbooks is NOT a cost effective option. It usually costs around 80% of the purchase price and you have no option of selling it to someone when you are finished with it.

  6. Designer anything is marked up because of association with a brand so wether it be glasses frames, jeans or licensed merchandise (like that hockey jersey), what else is new?

  7. Here’s another item for you list of high markup products…hearing aids. Compare the value to other electronic products like computers, tablets, phones and smart TV’s. Worth an investigative report since there must be some form of agreement among all the players in the industry amounting to a cartel.

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