Onwards and Upwards

I referred to upcoming price increases just before Christmas. We’re beginning to see the next round kick off, once again in the home Japan market first. 

Sony yesterday announced impending list price increases starting on February 1st in Japan across a huge swath of cameras, lenses, and accessories, with an average change of 14%. These are said by Sony to be the result of “recent external environment, the cost of raw materials” as well as the cost of manufacturing and distribution having increased. 

One of the media-spread myths about inflation is that it hits simultaneously, as in “all prices increased 4% on an annual basis last month.” Inflation tends to be more like a cyclical disease that spreads over time. For example, it first impacts a commodity price, which then impacts a producer price, which next impacts a consumer price, which eventually impacts a consumer wage demand, which… 

Inflation doesn’t just hit and then stop. It percolates for awhile until the root causes reside. Or it grows if you don’t address the causes. Of course, you can’t get two economists to agree on whether they’re economists, let alone what is triggering an inflation event or if it is under control or not.

My impression in talking with camera company executives is that they’ve been attempting to hold the line on prices as much as possible for fear of reducing sales volume. But you’d have to be blind to not see that we went from constant and widespread discounting, to limited and time-sensitive discounting, to list prices, to seeing list prices now being raised. 

Here in the US it won’t help that the yen/dollar relationship dropped from a peak of 150 yen/dollar before Thanksgiving to 130 this month. 

Expect the year to be rocky and unpredictable when it comes to pricing of the gear you want. Of course, you’re already complaining because availability has been rocky and unpredictable. The weather report ahead is: more storms. 

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