We all like to fuss about CTD, Dicks, and other turncoats but the price gouging by supposedly friendly gun show dealers (mostly small LGSs, accessory guys, and pawn shop/FFLs) puts them all to shame. Any dealer with the ‘nads to put a $600 price tag on a 10/22 or $75 on a Glock 19 magazine should be hounded out of the community. The guy selling $1.25/rnd 5.56 will never, ever get a dime from me no matter what deals he has 6 months from now when demand collapses due to stockpiling.
Just because they can doesn’t mean I won’t remember they did.
While the wildly fluctuating prices are annoying (and frequently hilarious) I’m not fond of the “gouging” term, because this is a function of free-market economics. They’re not just prices, they’re price signals indicative of availability relative to demand. The current demand far outstrips the stock so the relative value in the moment rises to reflect this.
We tend to see these prices and because our value for an item is set based more on the average, this is seen as outrageous, and gouging. But someone is paying these prices, market dynamics dictate this. So someone has placed a value on these objects that outstrips our own. Fair enough, let ‘em have at it. I’ll wait (relatively) secure in the belief that these prices signal a short term scarcity and not an absolute supply limit.
Given the nature of these market forces and the corresponding pricing signals, do we really expect vendors to hold their prices to an artificial low? Do we want them to maintain a “normal” price, which will result in rapid depletion of their available stock, decreased capital to replace that stock (vs those who let the market dictate the price), lower profit margins in the face of potentially higher operating costs (gun show operating costs are not fixed, nor are wholesale supply costs) and zero marketability (We sell at “normal” prices! We don’t actually have any product, but if we did it’d be priced good!!) That’s not good business sense, and operating in this fashion that favored vendor will soon be a spectator and not a businessperson.
The broader role of pricing is somewhat more obscure: Looking at ammunition, we know that manufacturers do not have large warehouses stocked with surplus ammunition waiting around to sell. They’re operating fairly close to daily production amount = daily retail amount. Not precisely, but fairly close. Given increased demand, they ought to produce more, yes? But producing more costs more, significantly more in the short term, and begins to produce shortages in the supply chain, because everybody is operating close to production = demand. As demand increases, and prices rise to signal this, the incentives to increase production grow, and the capital for that increase becomes increasingly available. Because of inherent production lag supply may not increase noticeably in this sales cycle, but the signals are still there, and the incentive to increase total annual production is there. This can be a net benefit to the industry, and consequently will drive down or hold down prices during the next buying frenzy.
More directly, are the current prices for fully automatic firearms gouging?
Wordy post, I apologize, but I think we falsely slander our vendors and damage our industry with this “gouging” meme.