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Retail gasoline pricing: What do we know?

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  • Hosken, Daniel S.
  • McMillan, Robert S.
  • Taylor, Christopher T.
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    Abstract

    We use a data set consisting of a three year panel of prices from a sample of gasoline stations located in suburban Washington DC and a corresponding census of the region's stations to develop three new empirical findings about retail gasoline pricing. First, while average retail margins vary substantially over time (by more than 50% over the three years we analyze), the shape of the margin distribution remains relatively constant. Second, there is substantial heterogeneity in pricing behavior: stations charging very low or very high prices are more likely to maintain their pricing position than stations charging prices near the mean. Third, retail gasoline pricing is dynamic. Despite the heterogeneity in station pricing behavior, stations frequently change their relative pricing position in this distribution, sometimes dramatically. We then relate these three findings to relevant theories of retail pricing. While many models of retail pricing are consistent with some of our findings, we find that all have serious shortcomings.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal International Journal of Industrial Organization.

    Volume (Year): 26 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 6 (November)
    Pages: 1425-1436

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:indorg:v:26:y:2008:i:6:p:1425-1436

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505551

    Related research

    Keywords: Retailing Petroleum industry Pricing Gasoline;

    References

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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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    1. Shepard, Andrea, 1990. "Pricing Behavior and Vertical Contracts in Retail Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 427-31, May.
    2. Galeotti, Marzio & Lanza, Alessandro & Manera, Matteo, 2003. "Rockets and feathers revisited: an international comparison on European gasoline markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 175-190, March.
    3. Daniel Hosken & David Reiffen, 2004. "How Retailers Determine Which Products Should Go on Sale: Evidence From Store-Level Data," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 141-177, June.
    4. Severin Borenstein & Andrea Shepard, 1993. "Dynamic Pricing in Retail Gasoline Markets," NBER Working Papers 4489, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Michael D. Noel, 2007. "EDGEWORTH PRICE CYCLES: EVIDENCE FROM THE TORONTO RETAIL GASOLINE MARKET -super-* ," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 69-92, 03.
    6. Saul Lach, 2002. "Existence And Persistence Of Price Dispersion: An Empirical Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 433-444, August.
    7. Al-Gudhea, Salim & Kenc, Turalay & Dibooglu, Sel, 2007. "Do retail gasoline prices rise more readily than they fall?: A threshold cointegration approach," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 59(6), pages 560-574.
    8. Borenstein, Severin & Cameron, A Colin & Gilbert, Richard, 1997. "Do Gasoline Prices Respond Asymmetrically to Crude Oil Price Changes?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 305-39, February.
    9. Andrew Eckert, 2002. "Retail price cycles and response asymmetry," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 35(1), pages 52-77, February.
    10. Lal, Rajiv & Matutes, Carmen, 1994. "Retail Pricing and Advertising Strategies," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 67(3), pages 345-70, July.
    11. Pashigian, B Peter, 1988. "Demand Uncertainty and Sales: A Study of Fashion and Markdown Pricin g," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 936-53, December.
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    13. Maskin, Eric & Tirole, Jean, 1988. "A Theory of Dynamic Oligopoly, II: Price Competition, Kinked Demand Curves, and Edgeworth Cycles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(3), pages 571-99, May.
    14. Justine S. Hastings, 2004. "Vertical Relationships and Competition in Retail Gasoline Markets: Empirical Evidence from Contract Changes in Southern California," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 317-328, March.
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    16. Eckert, Andrew & West, Douglas S, 2004. "Retail Gasoline Price Cycles across Spatially Dispersed Gasoline Stations," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(1), pages 245-73, April.
    17. Slade, Margaret E, 1992. "Vancouver's Gasoline-Price Wars: An Empirical Exercise in Uncovering Supergame Strategies," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(2), pages 257-76, April.
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    20. Lance J. Bachmeier & James M. Griffin, 2003. "New Evidence on Asymmetric Gasoline Price Responses," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(3), pages 772-776, August.
    21. Barron, John M & Taylor, Beck A & Umbeck, John R, 2000. "A Theory of Quality-Related Differences in Retail Margins: Why There Is a "Premium" on Premium Gasoline," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 38(4), pages 550-69, October.
    22. Andrea Shepard, 1993. "Contractual Form, Retail Price, and Asset Characteristics in Gasoline Retailing," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(1), pages 58-77, Spring.
    23. Andrew Eckert & Douglas S. West, 2004. "A tale of two cities: Price uniformity and price volatility in gasoline retailing," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer, vol. 38(1), pages 25-46, 03.
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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:
    1. Oystein Foros & Frode Steen, 2008. "Gasoline Prices Jump Up on Mondays: An Outcome of Aggressive Competition?," Working Papers 08-20, Centre for Competition Policy, University of East Anglia.
    2. Pennerstorfer, Dieter & Weiss, Christoph, 2013. "Spatial clustering and market power: Evidence from the retail gasoline market," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(4), pages 661-675.
    3. Maarten Janssen & Paul Pichler & Simon Weidenholzer, 2009. "Sequential Search with Incompletely Informed Consumers: Theory and Evidence from Retail Gasoline Markets," Vienna Economics Papers 0914, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
    4. repec:dgr:uvatin:2009106 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Lach, Saul & Moraga-González, José-Luis, 2009. "Asymmetric Price Effects of Competition," CEPR Discussion Papers 7319, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Meyler, Aidan, 2009. "The pass through of oil prices into euro area consumer liquid fuel prices in an environment of high and volatile oil prices," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 867-881, November.
    7. repec:dgr:uvatin:2009049 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Csorba, Gergely & Koltay, Gábor & Farkas, Dávid, 2009. "Árak és koncentráció a magyar kiskereskedelmi üzemanyagpiacon
      [Prices and concentration on the Hungarian retail market for motor fuels]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(12), pages 1088-1109.
    9. Erwan Gautier & Ronan Le Saout, 2012. "The Dynamics of Gasoline Prices: Evidence from Daily French Micro Data," Working Papers hal-00759095, HAL.
    10. repec:dgr:uvatin:2008117 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Perdiguero García, Jordi, 2010. "Dynamic pricing in the spanish gasoline market: A tacit collusion equilibrium," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 1931-1937, April.

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