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Harrys take prize in shopping war

OSLO, Norway -- A Swedish supermarket is offering money to customers named Harry as part of a shopping spat with neighbouring Norway.

While Harry has been popularised as a name in some countries, partly thanks to literary wizard Harry Potter and the UK's Royal Prince Harry, it is a term of insult in some Scandinavian countries.

Norway's agriculture minister attempted to shame people into not shopping in cheaper, neighbouring Sweden by calling those who did 'Harrys' -- which conjures up images of furry dice in cars and overweight men in cowboy boots standing by caravans.

Now the Swedish supermarket Kjothallen, is to reward those called Harry with 1,000 crowns ($96.48) to tempt them to cross the border.

Kjetil Dahlby, owner of the supermarket in Tocksfors, Sweden, told Reuters news agency: "I'll give away 1,000 crowns ($96.48) to each of the first 10 clients on Saturday called 'Harry.'

"The one who looks the most 'Harry' will get 10,000."

The Norwegian Agriculture Minister Lars Sponheim has dubbed anyone shopping in Sweden as a 'Harry' -- someone vulgar, cheap-minded and daft.

Supermarkets in European Union member Sweden are increasingly doing well financially from Norwegians flooding into the country to buy cheaper products from beer to bacon.

The 2001 cross-border spending by Norwegians was a record $850 million.

The reason for the wide divergence in prices is primarily because Sweden decided to join the European Union while Norway chose in 1994 to stay out. Border shops were doing far less trade before 1994.

Sweden's entry into the EU forced it to cut prices. They still remain relatively high for foodstuffs compared to the rest of its EU partners, but are cheaper than Norway's.

Two chicken breasts can cost 40 Norwegian crowns ($4.54) in Norway, far more than an entire chicken in Sweden.

Also Swedish shops have more products, from pheasant to cheeses. And the cost of servicing cars is far lower in Sweden.

Many Norwegians respond to their agriculture minister's criticism by saying that shoppers are smart to seek out bargains and that Oslo should instead cut subsidies to farmers, which are among the highest in the world.

To qualify for the 'Harry' bounty shoppers have to be Norwegian and have some form of identity card to prove their name is indeed Harry.

It may prove a frugal marketing move by Dahlby though. The name Harry is such an insult in Norway that few people have been christened it.

Only 3,682 Harrys exist among Norway's 4.5 million population, many of them foreign-born or elderly.

The name peaked in popularity in the 1920s, but even then only a tiny 0.7 percent of baby boys were Harry.




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