By Lydia White
Amazon has introduced its new line of physical stores: Amazon Go. Using a smartphone, consumers can swipe into the store, pick up their desired items, and exit—receiving an electronic receipt for their purchases and avoiding dreaded checkout lines. Many hail this new technology as promising and exciting, while others are concerned about the potential for job losses.
Such concerns overlook a fundamental aspect of free market economies: freedom of choice. While many will choose Amazon’s technology for convenience or cost, others may prefer not to out of regard for traditional retail job opportunities or other business or personal reasons. But regardless of these differences, freedom of choice serves everyone.
This holds true across industries. You can buy a BlackBerry or upgrade to an iPhone. You can hail a taxi or download Uber. The economy is not a zero-sum game.
Consumer decisions aren’t made in an ivory tower or executive board meetings, but by each of us in our daily lives. Businesses must cater to our needs to maintain mutually beneficial, voluntary transactions. No one is forced to shop in an Amazon Go store, and traditional shopping experiences will continue to exist as long as consumer demand for them exists.
So, whether or not you are enthusiastic about capitalism’s creative destruction, the choice remains yours.
Lydia White is a Research Associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.