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Slice Wars: Pricing Pizza in a Recession

Patsy's Pizza

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Price. Every New Yorker knows that a plain slice of pizza costs about the same as a ride on the subway. Not a lip-smacking barometer, certainly, but interesting.

With all the news of the MTA raising prices, I was caught off-guard by signs in several Chelsea pizza parlors that serve ad agencies, schools, and locals. Local joints, they’re off the track of tourists so you know the price margin is tight and true.

Pizza $1. a slice in NYC

While subway fares are going up (to make up for reduced ridership following the 2008 crash), crusty pie slice prices are going way down. Entrepreneurial solo-shop owners increasing sell $1. slices. The only difference I could taste was a little thinner crust. Depending on your tastes and neighborhood, that’s how pizza is intended to be. There’s even a special package price: $3. for two slices and a soda.

What’s the point? Pricing products in a recession to hold on to cash-strapped customers and keep your business going.

Price, the key element of the 4Ps, affects every merchant, especially in a recession. Who knows better than local retailers and restaurant owners. They’re not getting a bail-out so price markdowns represent their best way up to stay in business and show support for their best customers. There may not be any fancy loyalty card program, but you know it works.

Even “better price” parlors are in on it.

The better pizza parlors around town — those offering pasta meals, heroes, and salads — are in on it. The best deal for these thicker, bigger slices is now $4.99. OK, location also plays a part. You’ll find them right across from the courts, or around the corner from the movies. Ironically, the newest cafe is across the main drag from the new Trader Joes. Sheepish customers stop by for a just reward after making it through the long lines.

So just as the heat waves are winding down the pizza ovens and price wars stay hot.


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