Posted on Jan 11, 2021
We thought about the government’s promised upcoming inquiry into supermarket pricing. Which of course lead us to conclude that it will be about as useful as their inquiry into the fuel industry. Simply expensive posturing. But we all know that there is a real problem with supermarkets.. Back in the not too distant past when we could travel to Europe, we always marvelled when we stocked up on groceries at Aldi or Lidl or one of the other fast growing supermarket chains, and left the store in wonderment at how the bill at the checkout could be so minimal. Having spent too many years in the food industry, we know that insiders won’t speak out for fear of the consequences. The duopoly crushes those who step out of line. But instead of having an inquiry, perhaps we should be thinking somewhat laterally. How about giving Aldi a few million dollar incentive to set up in New Zealand? There is money being spent on projects with a lot less value from the Provincial Growth Fund. I would wager that whatever the incentive, it would have been returned at least twice over to New Zealand consumers in the form of cheaper prices at the checkout before they had opened their first few stores.
We thought also about the residential property market. It has been well proven that increasing the supply of property is one sure way of dampening down price increases. Just look at Christchurch, where the rebuild if anything lead to an over-supply, and resultant price stagnation. But instead of giving incentives to increasing supply, official policy is to encourage roadblocks to supply. We all know that an inverse co-relation exists between the number of road cones and the amount of work being done on a road. So, too, is there an inverse co-relation between the amount of politician bluster and the speed of RMA reform. Until the mess that are local councils is sorted we won’t have infrastructure to support the proposed expansion of housing stock.
We also thought about some of the ways in which the media (both regular mass media, and social media ) can subtly shape our thoughts and beliefs. If we listened to the media, most of us are now working from home, and being distracted by hanging out the washing, rather than distracted by colleagues. And we are able to participate in zoom calls wearing a collar and tie, shorts and jandals. But neither my dentist, hairdresser or my physiotherapist are able to work from home. My diesel mechanic doesn’t. The shelf stacker at the supermarket doesn’t. None of the various courier drivers who service our office or my home work from their homes. Our electrician and roller door serviceman can’t do their jobs from their kitchen tables. The guy who lays concrete for us, and the gib stopper and the plumber would all be less than useless to us if they sat working at home. All of which reminds me every time I read a story in the media, to apply the “Working from Home” filter. Because fake news has become all too common. Even here.
But mostly, we spent our time thinking about ways in which we can be more productive, use technology more effectively, and produce better products for our clients. The next 12 months will bear out whether we are able to translate thoughts into action.