A Conversation for Ask h2g2

Will everything eventually cost £1?

Post 1

Pink Paisley

I visited my mother this weekend. She lives in a town that is somewhat middle class but is possibly just past it's best. And in the town centre, right next to eachother on the high street are two large pound shops.

And I have noticed a trend in some of our major supermarkets, to have a 'pound aisle'. And of course there has been a trend to have a small display of things for a while which may have been priced at £2 as well as £1, things like cheap tape measures, key tags, staplers and so on.

So is everything going to end up costing £1 (and perhaps £2 and £5)?


Will everything eventually cost £1?

Post 2

2legs - Hey, babe, take a walk on the wild side...

I have even seen a 99 P store smiley - headhurtssmiley - weird Not sure if everything* will eventually cost £1, (or the £2, £3, equivelent 'rounded prices') But I think certainly the pound shops, and their ilk, are here to stay.... At least whilst its possible for such retailers to bulk buy ultra cheap made goods from whichever country it happens to be making such things, at any given time smiley - alienfrown Their presence has certainly done wonders for my collection of 'click clack'/tubberwear food storage containers smiley - blush - Highstreets probably need such cheap stores, in order to avoid totally loosing all customers to the interweb shopping experience, true one might pay a few bob more for the ability to go into a shop, and actually see, feel, touch, an item, but, for a lot of goods, really, the price differnce between high street and online is so bonkers... even on quite small items... - £4, or £5, was the cheapest price recently, I could find some emery board/foot files in town, err, a couple weeks back. bought six online for £2.30. It does seem to become a bit of a nobrainer, and one wonders to what extent the high street can survive such vast differnces in pricing smiley - alienfrown But, hopefully there will always be a place, on the high street, for some quality shops; If I'm gona spend actual* money on an item of clothing, or footwear for example, I'm unlikely to do so online, and perishables arn't always suitable for puchasing online smiley - panda

Will everything eventually cost £1?

Post 3


Yes, sort of. See Iain M. Banks's "Culture" novels, and in particular the saying from them - "Money is a sign of poverty." A society only needs money because it is in poverty overall.

Things cost money because the materials, energy and human effort required to produce them are scarce. However, eventually (although probably not in my lifetime, sadly smiley - sadface but perhaps the lifetime of my kids smiley - smiley) technology will reach a point where
(a) materials are readily available in any arbitrary quantity thanks to advances in nanotechnology
(b) energy is not an issue due to improvements in generation and efficiency and
(c) human effort in production is no longer required thanks to advances in automation and AI.

The big problem we'll have getting there will be that when we get there, everyone will be rich - which will be the same as nobody being rich. Now: by global standards, I'm fabulously wealthy. I have a house, car, clean water, good healthcare, clothes, electrical goods and toys. By UK standards, I'm comfortable. By the standards of actual rich people, I'm poor - my income doesn't even reach six figures.

I would actually quite like it if everyone in the world was at least as "rich" as I am. I can see no major downside to that, assuming the technology to achieve it. (What I mean by that is, in order for everyone else to be as rich as me, there would have to be a real sea-change in how efficient cars are, for instance. And that would just be a good thing. I would not like to live in a world where everyone had a car as heavy, inefficient and polluting as mine, but I would like to own the kind of car we'd need to allow everyone to have one.)

But I think there are enough really rich people who are heavily invested (pardon the pun) in being not merely rich, but richer than other people. It is not enough that they win - others must lose. Those people have power, and will not release it easily. And before we can reach any utopian post-scarcity future, we'll have to pass through the bit where those people try to stop it happening. It won't be pretty.

But while there's scarcity, then no. There will always be things that cost more, for reasons of scarcity of materials or energy or workmanship.

Will everything eventually cost £1?

Post 4

Otto Fisch ("Stop analysing Strava.... and cut your hedge")

I think also there's been a shift in marketing thinking. It used to be thought that "£2.99" sounded disproportionately cheaper than "£3.00" to consumers, but either that was never the case or it's no longer the case. I think the ".99" element is a big number which might serve to make whatever goes before it seem more expensive. Hence we see more non-poundshop shops selling stuff for round numbers.

Will everything eventually cost £1?

Post 5

Bald Bloke

I have seen a 99p shop as well as the pound shops.
So it is not dead yet.

Will everything eventually cost £1?

Post 6


My understanding was that the 99p on the end of the price was to keep cashiers honest.

Scenario 1: you go into a shop and pick up an item that costs £5.00. You go to the till and present a five pound note. The cashier accepts your fiver, and you go on your way. They pocket the fiver instead of ringing it through, and blame the loss of stock on shoplifting. Shopowner loses, as since they weren't there they can't prove (or even perhaps know) that you, the customer, paid. Unless you demand a printed receipt (and who does that?) there's no record of the transaction.

Scenario 2: you go into a shop and pick up an item that costs £4.99. You go to the till and present a five pound note. The cashier accepts your fiver... and you stand there with your hand out waiting for your 1p in change. They now have to ring it through the till.

I would suggest that the reason for the change to round number prices is to do with the move away from cash. Consider:

Scenario 3: you go into a shop and pick up an item that costs £5.00. You go to the till and present a plastic card. The cashier has limited opportunities to turn this situation to their advantage, and the shop's accountant has an easier time of it because the transaction is a nice, round number.

Will everything eventually cost £1?

Post 7

paulh, not fond of Lord Mudpants

*Will* everything eventually cost a pound, or a euro, or a dollar [depending on the currency in whatever country you are in]? If a pound of pork chops costs a [pick one unit of currency] and a car costs the same amount, something would seem to be amiss, wouldn't it? [Assuming that pigs haven't become so scarce as to be worth a lot more than they are now].

I can accept *some* degree of income inequality as the price to be paid for innovation. Every time some radical new technology comes along, chances are it will be expensive at first, because the eople who make it have not yet made back their investment in plant and equipment and royalties. To pick an example, I remember when CDs first came out. They were usually more expensive than vinyl. Eventually, CDs became profitable at a lower price, and the rest is history. I can remember when PCs were often more expensive than they are now. Once they came into widespread use, they became a lot more economical.

Different segments of a society embrace new technologies or products at different speeds. Therefore, you would need to have a few people willing to experiment on new stuff, and they would need to be able to afford to do so.

Will everything eventually cost £1?

Post 8


"they would need to be able to afford to do so"

But if everything costs £1, they can afford to do so.

"I need a widget for this machine."
"Certainly sir, that'll be £1."

"I'm prototyping a new kind of thing, I'll need a box of 100 hundred widgets for this machine."
"Certainly sir, that'll be a £1."

And so on.

When everything in a shop is £1, you don't need to bother asking the price. When everything in EVERY shop is £1 - pork chops and cars included - you won't need to bother taking your wallet, because what would be the point? When everything costs the same as everything else, that's the same as nothing costing anything. I'm only sorry I won't live to see it happen.

Will everything eventually cost £1?

Post 9

Mr. X

Economies don't really work this way.

Quality workmanship will always cost more than less-quality workmanship. Whatever the unit of currency.

Granted, nanotechnology and mini-facturing can and will drastically reduce the cost of a LARGE variety of everyday goods. But there will always be people who prefer handcarved chairs, for example.

smiley - pirate

Will everything eventually cost £1?

Post 10


I look forward to the day that a house costs £1.

(or someone else's at least smiley - laugh)

Will everything eventually cost £1?

Post 11

Ancient Brit

Consider that everything in the world is free.

Will everything eventually cost £1?

Post 12

paulh, not fond of Lord Mudpants

"'they would need to be able to afford to do so'
But if everything costs £1, they can afford to do so." [Hoovooloo]

Only if they have the money. Some people truly have nothing, not even a pound or dollar or Euro. More in keeping with the point I was trying to make, an "if" and a "when" seem to have been confused with each other. The subject line asked "Will everything eventually cost a pound?", not "When will everything cost a pound?" My point was that the answer was "never." I gave reasons based on the relative difficulties of making different commodities, some of them quite complex. Automobiles are said to be the most complex things that most people will ever buy.

Given the first post, it seemed that an unspoken assumption was made: that one pound was the bottom of a range, not an exact figure. Will everything someday cost a pound or more? That seems possible, given inflation. Well, maybe not a pin or a paper clip, but who knows? I can remember getting an ice cream cone for ten cents. Now you usually need two or three dollars to get one....

Will everything eventually cost £1?

Post 13


Britain’s New £1 Pub Chain ‘PoundPub’ Launches In Manchester


Will everything eventually cost £1?

Post 14

Mr. X

"Automobiles are said to be the most complex things that most people will ever buy."

Well I don't know, computers are pretty complicated. Houses take a lot of work. Lots of people buy boats.

smiley - shrug

smiley - pirate

Will everything eventually cost £1?

Post 15

paulh, not fond of Lord Mudpants

I agree that computers are complicated. They are used in cars. I don't know how many are used in one car. I've read that technologies that once were found only in expensive luxury cars are now found in almost all cars.

My house is not more complicated than a car smiley - laugh, but there may be houses that are. Chances are, I would not be able to afford to live in them smiley - laugh.

I do respect the notion that money is a flawed medium of exchange. Maybe that's because there seems to be so little of it around on the day before payday smiley - winkeye. There are barter economies. I even heard about a guy who exchanged his family's cow for some magic beans. As it turned out, the beans were worth *much* more than the cow, but who knew? smiley - biggrin

Will everything eventually cost £1?

Post 16


"there will always be people who prefer handcarved chairs, for example"

True. But where do hand carved chairs come from? People have to hand carve them. Why do they do that? Right now, they do it because hand-carved chairs fetch a good price, so they can buy scarce resources (e.g. housing, power, food, transport) using the currency they get in exchange for their products.

But if those resources (housing, power, food, transport) are basically free - why bother?

There will still be hand-carved chairs, but the only people making them will be people who love making them. And if a man can hand-carve a chair once, a sufficiently advanced manufacturing plant can produce an arbitrary number of exact copies, just as a photocopier can produce an arbitrary number of copies of a document it takes a person to compose, or a computer can make and distribute an arbitrary number of digital copies of a piece of film or music it took many people weeks to produce.

There'll still be something like an economy, but it'll be more personal and social. There'll be little point hoarding currency, and way more point building social capital - friends.

Will everything eventually cost £1?

Post 17

paulh, not fond of Lord Mudpants

" its possible for such retailers to bulk buy ultra cheap made goods" [2Legs]

We have stores where every item is exactly one dollar. Some manufacturers sell the same stuff there that they sell elsewhere [paper towels, for instance], but in smaller amounts per package. If you're buying things like paper plates or wine glasses, and you only need a few of them, it makes sense to buy only what you need.

Will everything eventually cost £1?

Post 18

2legs - Hey, babe, take a walk on the wild side...

Also, I assume, the buying, purchasing power of a gig retailer, means they can get a better deal on their wholesale price, and then have it up in the shop for £1, etc., whereas a smaller shop with less purchasing power, has to pay a higher wholesale price... Although I've noticed a few of our little 'corner shops' round here, seem to have got their act together, and bulk buy some goods, as a single unit, then divy them out to each of the little corner shops, assume they're therefore getting a lower wholesale price... Most of the canned lager and beers next door seem to be not much over a quid a can/bottle thesedays smiley - alesmiley - stoutsmiley - cider

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