Quotulatiousness

December 22, 2017

QotD: Economic lessons from Christmas toy shortages

Filed under: Business, Economics, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Toy marketing on this elite level — Canada should be proud! — creates enraged parents. Hatchimals disappeared from stores altogether many weeks ago, and the high prices commanded in the resale market have created an industry of colorful social-media abuse. Hatchimal hoarders (who can now command C$120-$140 on eBay for one egg) are alleged to be greedy monsters, ruining Christmas for single moms — that is, by making the toy available at a premium at a time when toy stores and the makers of the product are no longer any help. (If the toy had never been invented, or were otherwise unavailable at any price, there would be no cause for complaint.)

What we have here is the familiar operation of a strong human superstition: the belief in an illusory “just price” for a product. It is the same superstition that makes some music and sports fans angry at scalpers. But it is exacerbated in the Christmas-shopping milieu by the innate predicament of the parent, always an emotional hostage to their offspring.

The complainers know perfectly well their kids will survive if they have to wait a couple of months for a Hatchimal. They know they could buy many equally good (and equally ephemeral) toys for half what they might pay a Hatchimal hoarder. They probably even know, if I can play the obtuse childless know-it-all for a second, that an authoritative, confident parent could explain the situation to a child, and make them live with the explanation.

Parents always want Christmas to be just so, but in the people who are castigating Hatchimal resellers, you can hear the hints of desperation, maybe even bad conscience. The problem, angry moms and dads, is not the hoarders. They just saw the real problem coming, and it is you.

Colby Cosh, “How the Hatchimals Christmas craze got me to own up to my irrational baseball complex”, National Post, 2016-12-16.

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