Remember the commercials for the “Girls Gone Wild” videos? You were promised all these nubile young things doing all sorts of questionable activities. It turned out that the founder of the thing was a sleeze and that a lot of young women got roped in on something they’re going to regret for the rest of their lives. The entire sorry episode in our recent history was a lesson in how to ruin lives and mostly get away with it.
Mrs. Freeholder and I were shopping at Wally World last week and what you see over on the left stopped me in my tracks. I recall when that 4-pack was $6 and I was really ticked when it went up to $8. Now, 6-7 years later, and it’s $19.
Is it inflation? Sure, that’s some of it. But propane, at retail in my AO, is $3/gal. Propane weighs 4.2 lbs./gallon. With this 4 pack, you’re getting slightly less than a gallon of propane, for which the manufacturer surely paid less than retail. Let’s call it $2/gallon at a SWAG. That leaves $17 to cover the price of the containers, filling and transport to the Walmart warehouse and then to the store.
I have no good guess on the cost of the container and filling/labeling, but let’s figure on $1 for each 4-pack. So that $17 – $4 = $13. It costs $1866 to move an entire truckload of filled propane containers 1135 miles. It might be more because of Hazmat stuff, so figure $2500 as a reasonable guess. A 53′ trailer is roughly 7,068,700 in3if I can still do simple math. A flat of the containers is roughly 16.5″ x 16.5″ x 8″ or 2178 in3, so a trailer can carry, if you could pack it full with no pallets or wasted space, 3,245 flats. However, there are pallets and wasted space, so let’s call it 2,750 flats, giving us a transport prices of $0.68 each. Let’s make it a $1, so $13 – $1 = $12.
Allow $2 more for things like me being charitable, so $12 – $10 and we’re at $10/flat in profit for the manufacturer and Wally World.
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that I’m seeing more and more things where simple inflation or demand can’t account for the retail cost. 1# propane canisters are just one of them.
Are manufacturers and retailers making sure that they can take advantage of a crisis? Sure feels like it. They probably aren’t ruining lives, but they are getting away with it.