The law of demand does not apply in every case and situation. The circumstances when the law of demand becomes ineffective are known as exceptions of the law. Some of these important exceptions are as under.
1. Giffen goods:
Some special varieties of inferior goods are termed as Giffen goods. Cheaper varieties of this category like bajra, cheaper vegetable like potato come under this category. Sir Robert Giffen or Ireland first observed that people used to spend more their income on inferior goods like potato and less of their income on meat. But potatoes constitute their staple food. When the price of potato increased, after purchasing potato they did not have so many surpluses to buy meat. So the rise in price of potato compelled people to buy more potato and thus raised the demand for potato. This is against the law of demand. This is also known as Giffen paradox.
2. Conspicuous Consumption:
This exception to the law of demand is associated with the doctrine propounded by Thorsten Veblen. A few goods like diamonds etc are purchased by the rich and wealthy sections of the society. The prices of these goods are so high that they are beyond the reach of the common man. The higher the price of the diamond the higher the prestige value of it. So when price of these goods falls, the consumers think that the prestige value of these goods comes down. So quantity demanded of these goods falls with fall in their price. So the law of demand does not hold good here.
3. Conspicuous necessities:
Certain things become the necessities of modern life. So we have to purchase them despite their high price. The demand for T.V. sets, automobiles and refrigerators etc. has not gone down in spite of the increase in their price. These things have become the symbol of status. So they are purchased despite their rising price. These can be termed as “U” sector goods.
A consumer’s ignorance is another factor that at times induces him to purchase more of the commodity at a higher price. This is especially so when the consumer is haunted by the phobia that a high-priced commodity is better in quality than a low-priced one.
Emergencies like war, famine etc. negate the operation of the law of demand. At such times, households behave in an abnormal way. Households accentuate scarcities and induce further price rises by making increased purchases even at higher prices during such periods. During depression, on the other hand, no fall in price is a sufficient inducement for consumers to demand more.
6. Future changes in prices:
Households also act speculators. When the prices are rising households tend to purchase large quantities of the commodity out of the apprehension that prices may still go up. When prices are expected to fall further, they wait to buy goods in future at still lower prices. So quantity demanded falls when prices are falling.
7. Change in fashion:
A change in fashion and tastes affects the market for a commodity. When a broad toe shoe replaces a narrow toe, no amount of reduction in the price of the latter is sufficient to clear the stocks. Broad toe on the other hand, will have more customers even though its price may be going up. The law of demand becomes ineffective.
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