If here is the UK, I am taking a bike with me when I go to visit my daughter next week. It goes free as one of my checked pieces of baggage. I believe if you buy from a retailer here and have it shipped commercially, the cost of shipping will eat all the savings. So find somebody who is travelling. I dont understand the difference in price as most of the bikes are made in China, but maybe your currency is overvalued.
I myself get parts shipped from the UK to here in Norway and even with the postage costs and the 25percent value tax that the Norwegian customs slap on- I still make a saving! (Norway by the way is one of the richest per capita countries in the world but still charge 25percent import tax on anything valued over about $20 that you have sent in- 'much wants more' we English say)
The US is usually about a third cheaper than the UK again... The only thing I can think of is that theres such a big market in the US so prices are kept at a reasonable level. I recently put a bike together using UK mail order which cost me about $3000 and now I'm scared $h**less to look on US ebay- spoils my cyclin and to be honest annoys the krapoutta me
.....I have been looking at bikes from America,they are so much cheaper than here.
To answer the question in your subject line - there are 250+ million of us "consumers", most have a little money left over after paying the bills and buying the groceries -- but the bad (good?) part is that too many of us:
1) watch, read, believe and succumb to advertising;
2) think newer stuff is automatically better than older stuff;
3) are not afraid of personal, corporate or national debt;
4) practice instant gratification with credit cards.
And this applies to nearly every type of product put in front of our eyes. Our economy may crumble if we ever come to our senses. Regarding bicycles, many of us internet shop European/Asian distributors offering better prices than you can get in the USA on many goods.
Volume pricing is one thing, but look at the margins at your LBS or even online. I've got a dealer catalog for the US, and the markup on parts and accessories is not a lot compared to what I see here in Australia. For instance, I bought some SRAM gear in the US for about US$10 over dealer cost. After shipping, duties, GST, and the various distribution markups, the same parts over here are marked up an extra US$176 dollars. Holy crap! I had to check my math, as that didn't seem right, but it is. I did all my math in US$ as well.
Converted, it costs about AU$138 to buy, and the dealers sell them for $380. And that, my friends is why I don't have a real job. I cut out half the LBS profit, and make a decent packet of money.
Check on ebay.co.uk if you think store prices are too high. Also remember your new bike is going to be almost half price come next year. I've just bought a 2004 Kona Coiler for £899 down from £1500. I couldn't find any difference to the 2005 model.