Award Winning Blog

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Refuting the “Laws” of Economics . . . One at a Time

            The Covid-supply chain debacle, and the short-term thinking that has created shortages of nearly everything, except for exculpatory excuses.  This “perfect storm” offers daily reminders that knucklehead behavior does not trigger punishment, despite the laws regularly treated as irrefutable in the economics courses I took.  Here are a few laws rendered inoperative just now.

Ridiculous, Knucklehead Decisions Generate Measurable Harm to Company Profit and Employee Career Trajectory

            Simply put, I cannot catch a break in this economy.  I live near State College, Pennsylvania “centrally located in the middle of nowhere.”  Under the best conditions, the supply chain to edge towns sometimes breaks down.  But with Covid as an excuse, empty shelves have increased and car rental companies cannot honor their “reservations.”  No one gets punished in the marketplace, or suffers from a poor performance evaluation.  In many instances, the lowest priced options have evaporated, but a higher priced, possibly higher margin alternative is available.  Better pick up two or more, just like the mindset of consumers in the former Soviet Union.

Right Now is a Great Time to Make Shoplifting Harder Even if It Adds 20 Minutes for Customers to Checkout          

            The local Walmart recently reduced by about 50% the number of self-checkout terminals.  The installation of three large television screens makes me think some genius senior manager thought greater surveillance by cameras and employees will cut product shrinkage.  I am sure the manager expects to receive a bonus for saving the company millions.

            Maybe not.  The time it took me to check out and pay increased by 20 minutes and the thought crossed my mind that I should abandon my cart and leave.  Walmart loses a sale and an over worked employee has to restock the shelves with my now abandoned products.  Additionally, the possibility exists that significant numbers of Walmart customers will vote with their feet and shop somewhere else, like the Aldi that just opened nearby.

            The economic rules, that consumer behavior and revenue streams matter, seem to have evaporated.  There is a great likelihood that no one at Walmart will detect the problem, or remedy it if identified.  The shoplifting obsessed executive will not suffer for having been “pennywise and pound foolish.” 

What impact would any group of boycotting consumers have against Walmart, or for that matter any of the legacy or low cost airlines that make every effort to goose revenues by reducing the value proposition of service?  Is Southwest Airlines going to suffer in the marketplace by failing to calibrate employee availability vis a vis upside incentives to restore service schedules to their pre-pandemic levels?  Will Enterprise stop overbooking reservations, because a significant number of bookings cannot be honored?

The customer may not always be right, but are we as expendable as it seems right now?