The impact on cycling of a deflationary retail economy

Although utilities prices are rising, consumer goods prices are coming down. And that includes bike gear. You would think perhaps it was time for all of us to run out and hoard rain gear, but the irony of deflation, is we tend to spend less. The moment we figure prices will continue to fall—that last year’s $4000 carbon wheel set on sale now for $2000 will be $1000 in a few months—we are on the cusp of a great revelation. We are about to see that everything under lights in the shops is just resin and steel from the same factory in China from which we might buy direct for a few bucks, if we just looked on eBay or alibaba. I’m waiting for the day when online bike stores outnumber pirate movie and porn sites and have to give away all their stock as free samples, just so people come to their sites and click on dating site ads in the margins.

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In the race toward a post-retail future, Germany is the nation to watch. They have gotten so tight, the Yanks have just had to reprimand them. From the commentary I’ve heard on this issue, I gather American capitalists fear a Malthusian cloud falling from the firmament, engulfing the world in economic depression and pinko politics, if German attitudes toward spending spread throughout Europe.

From where I stand though, those days have already come. Smart people in my elite sphere have passed over spending as something very last year. If they spend at all, they will do so on gumtree. But they’re not spending money in shops.

So who do shop keepers speak to? Folks without PhDs, I suppose. I ever they do have occasion to speak to someone clued up, it could only be over the phone. They will be calling from interstate, having just searched the internet and identified some piece of inventory gathering dust at the back of the shopkeeper’s storeroom. I was that customer two weeks ago, buying a frame from some interstate shop I will never visit. With the help of a few friends with tools, knowhow and old parts, I have since turned this frame I picked up below cost, into a bike.

Though it’s been made with more leftovers than my mother’s fried rice, it rides like a dream and photographs as well as anything I might have had custom made for me in Portland. But that would have been back in the days when spending was hip. To think, that was just one year ago.