Back in the 12-29-2018 issue of the CourierTraveler was my letter to the editor, “Trade-off From Retail To Discount.” That Part 1 was gentle, meaning many will miss the point. This Part 2 is blunt.
I have worked for a few Cowley businesses which have closed, after they were offering discount level prices, and yet still getting lambasted by ingrates for being “too high.”
Compared to people around the world, Americans in general, and Kansans in particular, have been nice people. But when it comes to the economics of retail competing with discount, many customers are ignorant, oblivious and downright stupid.
Over the passing years and decades, masses of customers are playing right into the hands of the big discounters whom they badmouth. Retailers' year-round sales try to compete with discounters. Why? Because self-centered short sighted customers continually compare with discounter prices. Such customers will not buy at retailers unless given some low discount level prices. Well, that ain't so nice — more like extortion! Yes, competition is part of capitalism. But discounters are set up for discounts, while retailers are set up (middleman and all) for retail. Yes, you pay more for retail, but you get small, friendly neighborhood businesses where they know you and treat you like family. Higher retail prices also support expanding small business jobs, careers, and insurance, just like in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, before discount prices hit the market.
Retailers are set up to make a sustaining profit only if they charge “Retail.” So, one by one, retailers charging discount prices, who are not making a profit, are thus closing their businesses. Profit is one of the pillars of capitalism, along with capital, risk-taking, and management ability. No profit eventually means no business.
When consumers are short-sighted all they care about is how little they can pay, and not about the economic environment. Big discounters know this about consumers – how they can be like lemmings. They know such consumers will eventually come to them. That is why the big discounters have all those checkout lanes ready to go when needed. They have seen the pattern worldwide for the last 40 years, and they expect to see it coming to them again in the years ahead. Another thing is, if a big discounter becomes the only one one in a town (a virtual monopoly), then there is no competition left to prevent the big “discounter” from raising prices again. Back to “inflation.” If it ever gets to that point, then all the tightwad misers and their children and grandchildren, get nothing but a big bite in the butt.
Consumers can either pay more to determine our own economic environment with retailers personality, or, care only about paying less even if if means letting the big discounters play them like a fiddle. To end on a good note, perhaps there can be a happy medium, so that big and small can say, “Open For Business.”