Convenience Has a Price

We needed a new coffee grinder a few weeks ago.  Like Pavlov’s dog, I got on the world’s biggest e-tailer’s website and ordered it.  It appeared on our doorstep two days later.  It was very convenient.

I was in a store over the weekend.  For giggles, I went to look to see if they had coffee grinders.  Indeed, they had the exact same coffee grinder I bought.  It was 20% cheaper than what I paid.  It was not on sale.  I justified my extra expense by putting value on my time to go to the store.  The economist in me started an internal debate: “On the one hand, you paid a premium for delivery but saved time.  On the other hand, you enjoy going to stores and given your profession, it probably makes sense for you to go to stores.  I think you’re valuing your time too much.”  At that point, I was mumbling to myself in the car and our teenage son reminded me how annoying I was.  He’s good that way. 

Last week, FedEx announced an increase in surcharges for residential deliveries.  This is on top of the surcharge that went into effect January 4, 2021.  As I have written in the past, home delivery is much more costly than business delivery.  The carriers are going to continue to pass those costs on to consumers who have gotten used to home deliveries.

The great economist Milton Friedman is credited with saying, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”  The “free” lunch e-tailers, delivery companies, and our government provided during covid are going to cost a lot over the next few years.  Start thinking about how you are going to pay those costs now. 

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