A Curious Economic Policy


I confess readily. I was introduced to pizzas over twenty-five years ago by a former dear love and I have no doubt eaten more of them than is right and proper. And my pizza of choice is and always has been the Deep Pan.

Given the effect pizza has on my already expansive waistline, I do ration myself: no more than one shop-bought pizza per week, and no more than one takeaway (usually eaten in, but you get the distinction) per month.

Having already diminished myself in most right-thinking people’s eyes, I must also confess to shopping regularly at Tesco’s. Morality has had to turn its head away in the face of limited income, even more limited cooking time (or ability) and the fact of reliance on public transport when transporting food home. Between all these things, the local Tesco becomes the nexus of quasi-guilty convenience.

The last couple of times I have been in when pizza has been on my putative menu, I noticed that the non-frozen pizza  section was stocked exclusively with thin’n’crispy pizzas (or rather, Thin and Tasty, a designation that some of you will no doubt wish to dispute).

Twice may be coincidence but Three times is Enemy Action, so I asked a nearby shelf-stacker and he confirmed that Tesco have, indeed, stopped making and stocking Deep Pan pizzas in this category. The reason for this is that, when they checked their records, they found they were selling more Thin and Tasty than Pan pizzas.

Being a shelf-stacker, he couldn’t provide me with any figures, but nevertheless, the economic theory behind this decision seems curious to me, and ill-founded in logic. What Tesco appear to be saying is that we are selling more of X than Y, so therefore if we stop making Y, we will sell more of X. Given that we’re talking about types of pizzas, there’s a certain amount of plausibility to the theory but it seems to me to be based on the idea that if we continue to provide people who want X with X, and deprive people who want Y of what they went, our sales of X will increase, to such an extent that they will outweigh the loss we will now make on people who want Y being denied what they want deciding instead to buy X instead, and more of it.

As opposed to doing what I will be doing and buggering off to buy Y at a store which still deigns to sell me Y, and incidentally spending there the money I would otherwise have spent at Tesco because I’m not going to be making two trips instead of one, especially with the way the busses run around here.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it a bit dodgy to assume that by depriving someone of a product they enjoy and want to buy, they will switch to buying a product they could have been buying all along but were not buying because they actually preferred to buy something else, and now that they’ve had that taken off them, they’re going top buy the product they didn’t want in the first place in even greater numbers?

Of course, I am not an economist, so some valuable piece of knowledge may be being withheld from me (along with my non-frozen Tesco Deep Pan Pepperoni, Meat Feast, Ham & Pineapple and Smoked Chicken). But, as Morrisons do a made-in-store Vegetable Supreme on top of these other choices, my theory holds up rather better in the local economy.

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