Erm, no, contrary to The Guardian leader, they don\’t

There is no place in the rules for the tinkle of the bell at a much-loved local bookshop or the pride in a high street that looks distinctive, yet people value these things.

If people did value these things then they would spend their cash so as to preserve these things. Yet when offered the choice, supermarket or high street, people do not spend their cash so as to preserve these things.

Ergo, they do not value them. At least, they do not value them sufficiently to actually do anything about it.

Revealed preferences, see?

Quite possibly one of Aditya Chakraborrty\’s leaders again: the ignorance of/glossing over basic economic theory is telling.

7 comments on “Erm, no, contrary to The Guardian leader, they don\’t

  1. No dobut there’s some elementary bit of economics I don’t know but which is about to make me look stupid but…

    Isn’t it possible that each individual who shops at a supermarket is not expressing a preference for a future outcome – the end of the traditional high street – but for an immediate lower price; and that the cause and effect aren’t present in their minds when they make that choice? That the possible consequences two years down the line of the the accumulated choices of many people aren’t part of any individual’s calculation?

  2. @David Jones: well yes, people are indeed stupid, and can manage to think that by taking their custom away from one store and giving it to another, that the first store will continue to exist on thin air. But thats not really an argument for stopping them making their choice in the first place.

    Anyway, on your argument, any high street that has been denuded of individual stores (and turned into a charity shop wasteland) by Asda or Tesco should be ripe for new stores to open, shouldn’t it? After all the local populace has now seen the consequences of their actions and will be clamouring to visit little shops with tinkly bells and pay more for their goods than they would down the road at the superstore. Is there any evidence of this happening? Not in my neck of the woods certainly.

    Which leads me to think people can see the consequences of their actions only too well, and are quite happy with them too. Cheap tat at Tesco beats expensive tat with a tinkly bell and a smile I’m afraid.

  3. You could argue more simply that even once the tinkly-bell shops are gone, it still doesn’t change people’s short-term preference for cheap tat – hence not enough demand for the stores to re-open.

    I don’t think that’s a slam-dunk counter to concerns that something valuable is being lost.

    But David Jones, to make that concern stick you need to determine whether that value is genuine, not just personal preference or a shared nostalgia, and whether that value is worth the waste of money and misuse of power inherent in setting up a state agency to preserve it.

  4. I suspect that what kills the tinkly-bell shops is more a mixture of taxes and regulation than the influence of Tesco’s.

  5. My home town went through the loss of small shops replaced by charity shops replaced, today, by a new set of real shops and restaurants.

    My home town is a coastal resort. Thus the town centre was dismaying to visitors and absence of citizens in the town centre created social problems. The local authority used its powers and money to redesign the public owned areas which encouraged private renewal. I thought that it was money down the drain initially, but I have been converted.

    I find it interesting that some of the new shops are physical showrooms for businesses that trade on the internet. You can buy model cars or whatever face to face in the shop, but most sales are mail order which is helpful to the local post office. But these businesses have found it productive to have a physical presence in addition to a website. I suspect that many second hand book shops (tinkle) survive in a similar way.

  6. Supermarkets are the result of some pretty hefty social engineering which allowed predatory discounting.Until 1964 the UK was subject to a lot of Resale Price Maintenance which ensured branded goods in the corner shop were the same price as in big shops.The US re-introduced RPM after the Leegin Creative Leather vs PSKS case went through the Supreme Court which listened to economic advice from experts from the Univ of Chicago ,of all places.

  7. It also has a lot to do with the predatory traffic wardens who effectively set out to prevent you easily and/or cheaply accessing the High Street. You’d think these petty local authority bureaucrats were in the PAY of easy-parking supermarket groups !

    Alan Douglas

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