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WSJ: “Toilet Paper Priced Liked Airline Tickets” & Inflation on the Rise

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As inflation threatens to ravage a nation, even mundane sectors of the consumer economy are getting makeovers. Toilet paper is now, apparently, exciting.  According to the Wall Street Journal: “Deploying a new generation of algorithms, retailers are changing the price of products from toilet paper to bicycles on an hour-by-hour and sometimes minute-by-minute basis.” This is surely to be a good practice run for when the retailers have to adjust their prices in accordance with constantly dropping and fluctuating US Dollar as the US consumer sits at their computer and does everything they can to get the cheapest price in terms of competitor competition and within an acceptable period of time so as to avoid the inherent inflation risk of time.

That’s why strategies such as Hugh Lee’s won’t work for much longer. The 32-year old from Seattle said he extensively researches products and prices before pulling the trigger on a purchase. Even after buying something online, he will monitor the price and request a price adjustment if the price lowers. “It’s a lot of extra work,” he said. In the future, by the time the retailer gets around to answering Lee’s request, the USD index would have slid further and the price-locked in will not be 5% higher than previous. Chances are Lee won’t have the luxury of nitpicking in the future.

It’s an e-Weimar, and although the prices currently are moved upwards as much as they are moved downwards, the distracting competition between competitors will over time serve to mask the true pricing trend, which is that the prices are going upwards, not downwards, despite the competition.

Airlines became known in the nineties for changing prices all the time, based on seats available and on their competitors’ prices. Hotels   followed suit, and now they change rates constantly. The items which change the most are consumer electronics, clothing, shoes, jewelry and household staples such as detergent and razor blades.

“The long-term implication is that a price is no longer a price,” said Eric Best, chief executive of Mercent, which tracks prices for more than 400 brands. Right now, as the brands compete with each other online, the contradictory pressures of free market competition and inflation lead the prices to going up half the time, and half the time going downward.  Fixed prices are a thing of a past, as retailers grow used to having to change their prices on items thousands of times a day in order to be inline with the market.

Almost wherever one looks, inflation is on the rise. In Thailand, in the United Kingdom, in Chile and so on. Basically, the only market in which it is not rising is the wage markets, as wages continue to stagnate.  Coming Soon: Toilet paper, soap, tampons, q-tips and maybe even food prices being changed thousands of times a day. The Soviet Union style breadline will be consumers sitting at home with dodgy internet connections doing everything they can to lock-in the affordable price as wages at work are failing to keep with daily inflation.  ”God dammit DSL! Connect!”



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