Online shopping has literally exploded here, with many people getting a lot of consumer goods from stores that market on the internet. As I wrote in this post over a year ago, most of us can’t seem to understand how the local merchants actually come by the prices that they charge us down here.
As a person on both sides of the divide – as a paying customer and as a person who has had to take all the inputs into account when pricing goods, I can understand either side of the coin. Most businesses need to make something on what they’re selling – unfortunately some customers no longer feel the need to support that idea.
As a result, several businesses have sprung up that provide the service of consolidating shipments from several online orders and saving the customer money on import duties and taxes. In this new dispensation, these newer businesses are the ones making the money, while the goods brought in by some local merchants are left sitting on the shelves.
On Friday this week, news broke that the head honchos at the Customs & Excise Division (the arm of government responsible for whatever comes in and goes out of the country), have decided to close some loopholes that may affect the way that these brokers do business. It might make their prices go in a different direction.
Cue the firestorm of controversy. The people for whom online shopping has become their only way to conduct business – like the person who said that the only things he/she buys locally are groceries and gas – are certain that the new policy was orchestrated by local businesses who want to sell their goods at ridiculous mark-ups. But for the people who think that buying more goods locally will cause more money to circulate in an economy suffering from under-inflation, it’s a welcome fix.
Only a few years ago, “sales” weren’t things to be trifled with. They didn’t come along very often, and when they did you literally backed up your truck to take advantage – although for me, some sales would come at the times when I didn’t have any money anyway. These days, in efforts to move product that isn’t going anywhere, you can count on a sale for holidays that we celebrate and even ones that we don’t.
Black Friday sales are now commonplace, with local retailers offering discounts on whatever it is they’re selling. Some have complained that the discounts aren’t deep enough and that when they compare the prices online they’re still not matching up. Nobody’s camping outside any stores here or trampling on one another to get to the “deals”, but there are enough of us willing to see what’s on offer.
There are still quite a few though, who aren’t “buying into” the hype.