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Uniform pricing in US retail chains

Author: Stefano Della Vigna; Matthew Gentzkow; National Bureau of Economic Research,
Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : National Bureau of Economic Research, 2017.
Series: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 23996.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
We show that most US food, drugstore, and mass merchandise chains charge nearly-uniform prices across stores, despite wide variation in consumer demographics and the level of competition. Estimating a model of consumer demand reveals substantial within-chain variation in price elasticities and suggests that the average chain sacrifices seven percent of profits relative to a benchmark of flexible prices. In contrast,  Read more...
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Details

Material Type: Document, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Stefano Della Vigna; Matthew Gentzkow; National Bureau of Economic Research,
OCLC Number: 1010733954
Notes: "November 2017."
Includes online appendix (36 pages).
Description: 1 online resource (57 pages) : illustrations, map
Series Title: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 23996.
Responsibility: Stefano DellaVigna, Matthew Gentzkow.

Abstract:

We show that most US food, drugstore, and mass merchandise chains charge nearly-uniform prices across stores, despite wide variation in consumer demographics and the level of competition. Estimating a model of consumer demand reveals substantial within-chain variation in price elasticities and suggests that the average chain sacrifices seven percent of profits relative to a benchmark of flexible prices. In contrast, differences in average prices between chains broadly conform to the predictions of the model. As possible explanations for nearly-uniform pricing, we discuss advertising, tacit collusion, fairness concerns, and managerial fixed costs, and find the most support for the last explanation. We show that the uniform pricing we document significantly increases the prices paid by poorer households relative to the rich, likely dampens the overall response of prices to local economic shocks, and may also shift the incidence of intra-national trade costs.

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