What are Non-Durable Goods?

Non-durable goods are goods that can only be used over a short period because of their nature. Non-durable goods have the nature of spoiling or wearing out after a certain point of time.

Classification of Non-Durable Goods

Non-durable goods are consumed over a shorter period. Because of their nature, non-durable goods are also called consumables or soft goods.

In economics, goods are defined as materials that can satisfy human wants or needs and provide utility. For instance, if you consume a chocolate pie, it will be regarded as a good because it provided you with utility or satisfaction. Goods can be both tangible (like that chocolate pie) and intangible. Intangible goods may include services like internet service, mobile applications, online games, and so on.

A good can be either scarce or free. Free goods include air and water. On the other hand, scarce goods are mainly divided into two broad categories:

  1. Producer goods: Producer goods, such as machinery, equipment, and tools, are useful for producers in manufacturing more goods. For instance, the printer that prints books, the textile machinery that produces shirts, and the oven that bakes cookies are considered to be producer goods. They satisfy consumers' wants indirectly. Such goods are usually bought by business entities.
  2. Consumer goods: Consumer goods are meant for final consumption by consumers. The books, shirts, and cookies in the above instance can be classified as consumer goods. Consumer goods are further divided into durable and non-durable goods.

Consumer Goods

Consumer goods are meant for consumption by the end customer. More precisely, consumer goods are the commodity produced and subsequently purchased to satisfy the current wants and needs of the buyer. Consumer goods can be further divided into durable and non-durable goods.

There are several differences between durable and non-durable goods:

Durable GoodsNon-durable Goods
Also known as hard goodsAlso known as consumables or soft goods
These goods last over a longer periodThese goods last over a shorter period
Examples: refrigerators, air conditioning units,
and mobile phones
Examples: Food items and cosmetics

Features of Non-Durable Goods

Some prominent features of non-durable goods are mentioned below:

  • Non-durable goods have an important place in households and thus in the economy. A significant portion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) comprises such products. These goods contribute to personal consumption, exports, and government purchases.
  • Non-durable goods are present in a stable quantity in every economy, as they include goods that are essential for consumers to purchase. Non-durable goods, such as food and beverages, are purchased by consumers in every situation.
  • Consumer behavior is generally very consistent with non-durable goods. This implies that non-durable goods are not subject to the business cycle, unlike durable goods that are affected by the cycle of economic expansion and contraction.
  • Non-durable goods constitute a stable figure in the economy and hence are not regarded as a prominent economic indicator. Subsequently, changes in the purchase of non-durable goods are usually influenced by a change in population and demographics rather than an economic phenomenon. On the other hand, durable goods are considered a reliable economic indicator because demand tends to rise during economic growth and fall during a recession.

Examples of Non-Durable Goods

Non-durable goods can be exemplified by:

  • Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) such as fruits, vegetables, milk, and food items
  • Cosmetics and cleaning products
  • Fuel, including gasoline, natural gas, and diesel
  • Alcohol, cigarettes, and tobacco
  • Office supplies, packaging and containers, and paper products
  • Rubber and plastics
  • Medications

Price Elasticity of Non-Durable Goods

The price elasticity of non-durable goods is higher in the long run as compared to the short term. Consumers respond to a price change of a non-durable good. In the short run, they seek alternatives but might not change their consumption pattern immediately. However, in the long run, they may plan and change demand accordingly. Take a rise in fuel prices, for example. Consumers will not be able to reduce the demand for fuel in the short run. However, over a longer duration of time, they may switch to alternative modes of transportation, like carpooling, public transport, etc.

On the other hand, durable goods have low elasticity, as some of them are near-necessary goods that we consume in our daily lives. Durable goods have an elasticity of less than one, and their demand does not change significantly even when there is a significant change in their price.

Context and Applications

Non-durable goods are an important part of our daily life. This makes it an important part of consumer demand, as a large part of consumer income is spent on these products. Non-durable products are therefore used in economic studies around the world.

They are also taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses in economics.

Practice Problems

1. Which of the following goods is likely to wear out the fastest?

  1. Durable goods
  2. Non-durable goods
  3. Free goods
  4. Perishable goods

Answer: b

Explanation: Non-durable goods are likely to wear out faster because they are meant to be consumed over a shorter period.

2. What are non-durable goods also known as?

  1. Consumables
  2. Soft goods
  3. Hard goods
  4. Both (A) and (B)

Answer: d

Explanation: Non-durable goods are called consumables or soft goods because they wear out quickly. “Hard goods” is another term used for durable goods.

3. Which of the following includes non-durable goods as a part of GDP?

  1. Government purchases
  2. Personal consumption
  3. Exports
  4. All of these

Answer: d

Explanation: All the above-mentioned options include non-durable goods as a part of GDP.

4. What is the price elasticity of durable goods?

  1. Infinity
  2. Zero
  3. More than 1
  4. Less than 1

Answer: c

Explanation: The elasticity of durable goods is more than one because they are not necessary goods, and their purchase can be deferred in case of recession.

5. Which of the following is not an example of a non-durable good?

  1. Fruits
  2. Vegetables
  3. Chips
  4. Cars

Answer: d

Explanation: Cars are not an example of non-durable goods because they are durable and are generally purchased for the long term.

  • Goods
  • Durable goods
  • Consumer and producer goods
  • Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs)

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