A blizzard hits the St. Louis area and customers are lined up to purchase items they now need. Garrett announces that the store has decided to ration all types of water rather than raise prices in an attempt to prevent people from hoarding water. Another alternative allocation mechanism would be to raise prices, but they have opted instead for an authoritarian approach. As Garrett names the different products under rationing, we also get a list of substitute products which shows the range of product differentiation at the store.
Jonah finds a wallet with $906 in the shorts that Amy ended up with in a lost and found activity. Amy wants to pay her pending bills or help her family with household repairs. Jonah convinces her to spend it on herself, instead of doing something that he considers boring. Amy decides she wants to treat herself to a spa visit. When the other employees find out that she has that money, they ask for things for the break room that are needed, but also ask for things that would be considered luxuries.
A lot of the employees have food poisoning from the morning’s potluck. Mateo approaches Cheyenne about some Pepto Bismol, but she raises the price to account for the fact that she has purchased the entire store’s stock.
A customer is looking for a particular coffee maker, but Cheyenne and Mateo tell him they can get another from the stock room if they are offered a bribe. If prices weren’t so low, there would probably be an adequate stock of items on the shelves. Cheyenne and Mateo try to initiate a black market transaction in response to this shortage.
It’s Black Friday and customers are in a rush to get the good deals. Before Dina can unlock the doors, the crowd knocks the doors down and rush for the deals. These low prices will cause a shortage and impact the allocation of items among consumers.
As customers stand outside waiting for the store to open, one of them offers Mateo and Cheyenne $40 each to put aside one of the TVs that is on sale. Because prices are so low, there won’t be enough for all of the customers that want a TV, creating a shortage among the waiting customers. Having people wait in line helps allocate the items based on people’s willingness to spend time rather than money, but this man would prefer to have the item allocated through a black market transaction.
The store is having a one-day wedding sale and the discounts are steep enough that there is a line of women ready to purchase products. The increased purchases represent a change in the quantity demanded for items from the store. Since they didn’t stock enough items, the low prices will result in a shortage and likely an inefficient allocation among the shoppers.