Pricing is Unsettled

We’ve already had most camera companies raise prices in Japan and Europe at least once this year, with some adjustments in the US, as well. 

That re-pricing isn’t done. The continued parts shortages coupled with the strong US dollar is having a continued impact in Tokyo. Even though we’re coming into the holiday season, I see upcoming price adjustments that will happen right in the middle of the buying season. Canon has already announced a price increase for most products in Japan to take effect in November, for instance, and I’m hearing rumblings that others will follow, and other regions may see something similar. Update: Fujifilm has also announced a 5-30% increase on lenses in Japan.

Moreover, the list prices for cameras getting updates seems to be going up, too. The Sony A7R Mark V will have a higher list price than the A7R Mark IV it replaces, for example, and I expect Canon and Nikon to be doing the same thing soon.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be very interesting this year. I expect that overstocked products will get discounts, low stock items won’t.

We are in a classic inflation/recession cycle. Businesses are far faster at responding to changing costs than consumers tend to be. They’ll raise prices very quickly to attempt to keep profits even or growing. Eventually, consumers balk at the higher costs of said products, and stop buying them in the same quantity, which causes the business’s sales to go down, putting strain on profits again and perhaps triggering/extending recession, and we begin a vicious loop that eventually destructs any consumer or business carrying too much debt. That’s because the central banks’ one key control over inflation is to increase interest rates to pull down demand, so debt costs go up. Carry too much debt into a cycle like this and it will hurt. 

Eventually, prices have to relent (or wages increase, or both) and find some new point of stability. Unfortunately, until we reach that point, we'll get these gyrations that are much like watching bath water slop back and forth across a tub due to a big disruption. Eventually that will settle down, but until then, beware the waves.

And if someone tells you that a political party causes this, or that a political party can fix this, tell them they’re barking up something that isn’t even a tree, let alone the wrong tree. Inflation is triggered by herd instinct, particularly centered on money. You, me, and others coupled with the speed or force at which we overreact tend to be the real problem. 

The long term result is that we’re going to lose some suppliers of photographic gear. Dealers carrying too much debt. Software companies dependent upon constant upgrade money. Accessory companies that suddenly see sales volume decline and end up with excess inventory that their only real choice is to sell at a loss. 

No, the Japanese camera companies won’t be one of the casualties. The Japanese CES industry has a long history of dealing with local, regional, and global economy changes. Most of them do that better than just about anyone. And they still cooperate when necessary to keep the full set of supplier options available. (For example, Sony is a supplier to Nikon, while Nikon is a supplier to Sony, so they’re co-dependent.) 

However, pricing is one of the tools that the Japanese companies use to micromanage things when the economy in which they sell changes. So we’re going to see a lot of pricing adjustments, some permanent, some temporary, as they rebalance what they’re doing. Products already produced will perhaps see discounts, while new products just starting to be produced will have higher suggested retail prices. It might look haphazard, but a bunch of spreadsheets in Tokyo are tracking it all and being used to make every decision.

Take a deep breath. Make sure you’re not doing something that destabilizes your own finances. Buy what you need or can afford. 

 Looking for gear-specific information? Check out our other Web sites:
DSLRS: | mirrorless: | Z System: | film SLR: all text and original images © 2024 Thom Hogan
portions Copyright 1999-2023 Thom Hogan
All Rights Reserved — the contents of this site, including but not limited to its text, illustrations, and concepts,
may not be utilized, directly or indirectly, to inform, train, or improve any artificial intelligence program or system.