Daily Archives: November 17, 2011

An economist on Thanksgiving Day shopping and other excesses of holiday-season retailing

A dollar sign with a Santa hat perched on it.The giant retail chains will be further eroding the boundary between Thanksgiving Day and “Black Friday” again this year, continuing a gradual expansion of a “race to the bottom,” in the view of Mark Burkey, associate professor of economics at N.C. A&T.  On his blog he writes:

“This is a general case of a ‘prisoner’s dilemma’ or ‘race to the bottom.’  Stores believe that if they don’t do it, everyone else will, and they will lose out.  They also believe that even if everyone else doesn’t, they will win by being first.  We are seeing the same kind of leap-frogging in the presidential primaries — we all agree that this is the wrong outcome, but individual, selfish behavior makes it rational for individuals, but irrational for the collective result.”

If it all sounds like just another holiday aggravation for consumers, Dr. Burkey explains why it doesn’t seem like such a good idea for retailers, either in a blog post well worth reading.