Monday, April 24, 2006

The Economics of getting fat at the cinema

Apparently childhood obesity is rising at something of a shocking rate. I don't honestly think there is much the government can do about this even if it wanted to regulate what is a lifestyle choice. With the amount of heavy people around it is somewhat disingenous to claim that people do not know that obesity is a possible result of eating too much and not exercising. Equally, while the details of the health implications may not be understood the social consequences of being fat are regularly brought home by media and peer pressure; unlike cigarettes, obesity really isn't cool. A fat (fatty food) tax necessarily means taxing the poorest people most and only strength of anti-corporate feeling stops even the left dismissing it on those grounds. My own experience is that I took up sport as soon as I hit sixth form and didn't have the school minimum forced on me so I am suspicious of government programmes to get the nation exercising.

What I am currently struggling to understand though is the change in the size of drinks at cinemas. When I first headed out to the States I was amused that all of the portions were a size or two up from what I expected in the UK. Now it is safe to rely on a small being what used to be a large and when I ask for a small it is almost certain that I will be told a large can be mine for a negligible increase in price. My best understanding of the economics behind this is that the increase in cost to the cinema of increasing the size is insignificant but that an increase makes people less likely trouble over paying extra. Despite this it would seem that the cinemas probably cause some people with appetites less formidable than mine to either not buy a drink or share it between two or three people. This would seem to be quite a risk as this halves the cinemas income from the sale and therefore offsets a lot of marginal rises in price. The effect of all this on me is unambiguous though, I order a small and drink more than I did before when I ordered a medium.

That I am talking about the old days at twenty two worries me. Only trying to relate to myself before the existence of the Internet and e-mail gives me a similar shock of modernity.

On another note popcorn's margins are some of the highest of any product; less profitable than Kalashnikov's but without the risk.


Dave Cole said...

I buy a drink before I go into the cinema.


Matthew Sinclair said...

Worthy but uninteresting. I'm glad there are some lefties who want to avoid idiotic relativism, apologising for tyrants, distorting or rejecting historical truth and veiled anti-semitism. That's quite an achievement. It isn't going to do anything to stop the idiot left pushing their standard crap though.

Plus the Euston manifesto lot are still wrong on every issue where they haven't accepted the logic of the right or stated obvious truisms that every sane person didn't already accept.