Price Dispersion, Search Costs And Consumers And Sellers Heterogeneity In Retail Food Markets
AbstractPrice dispersion, i.e. a homogeneous product sold at different prices by different sellers, is among the most replicated findings in empirical economics. The paper assesses the extent and determinants of spatial price dispersion for 14 perfectly homogeneous food products in more than 400 retailers in a market characterized by the persistence of a large number of relatively small traditional food stores, side by side large supermarkets. The extent of observed price dispersion is quite high, suggesting that monopolistic competition prevails as a result of the heterogeneity of services offered. When prices in an urban area (where the spatial concentration of sellers is much higher and consumer search costs significantly lower) have been compared with those in smaller towns and rural areas, differences in search costs and the potentially higher degree of competition did not yield lower prices; quite the contrary, they were, on average, higher for 11 of the 14 products considered. Supermarkets proved to be often, but not always, less expensive than traditional retailers, although average savings from food shopping at supermarkets were extremely low. Finally, the results of the study suggest that sellers behave differently in their pricing strategies; these differences emerge both at the firm level, and for supermarkets within the same chain. The fact that products considered were homogeneous, purchases frequently repeated, the number of sellers large, and search costs relatively low, did not suffice to keep price dispersion low. From the results presented in the paper, it is clear that what is important in explaining price dispersion is the contemporaneous heterogeneity of retailers (in terms of services) and consumers (in terms of search and shopping preferences), which makes it possible for a monopolistic competition structure of the market to emerge and for small traditional food retailers to remain in business.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Università della Calabria, Dipartimento di Economia, Statistica e Finanza (Ex Dipartimento di Economia e Statistica) in its series Working Papers with number 201105.
Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: May 2011
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: Università della Calabria, Dipartimento di Economia, Statistica e Finanza, Ponte Pietro Bucci, Cubo 0/C, I-87036 Arcavacata di Rende, CS, Italy
Phone: +39 0984 492413
Fax: +39 0984 492421
Web page: http://www.unical.it/portale/strutture/dipartimenti_240/disesf/
More information through EDIRC
Price dispersion; Retail pricing; Food markets;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce
- D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search, Learning, and Information
- D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure and Pricing - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
- Q13 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Markets and Marketing; Cooperatives; Agribusiness
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2011-05-24 (All new papers)
- NEP-COM-2011-05-24 (Industrial Competition)
- NEP-HME-2011-05-24 (Heterodox Microeconomics)
- NEP-URE-2011-05-24 (Urban & Real Estate Economics)
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.:
- Kathy Baylis & Jeffrey Perloff, 2002.
"Price Dispersion on the Internet: Good Firms and Bad Firms,"
Review of Industrial Organization,
Springer, vol. 21(3), pages 305-324, November.
- Baylis, Kathy & Perloff, Jeffrey M., 2001. "Price Dispersion on the Internet: Good Firms and Bad Firms," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt2t0770rn, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
- Hong, Pilky & McAfee, R. Preston & Nayyar, Ashish, 2002. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion with Consumer Inventories," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 105(2), pages 503-517, August.
- Berck, Peter & Brown, Jennifer & Perloff, Jeffrey M. & Villas-Boas, Sofia B, 2007.
"Sales : tests of theories on causality and timing,"
CUDARE Working Paper Series
1031, University of California at Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Policy.
- Berck, Peter & Brown, Jennifer & Perloff, Jeffrey M & Villas-Boas, Sofia B., 2007. "Sales: Tests of Theories on Causality and Timing," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt2g56n1jk, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
- Michael R. Baye & John Morgan, 2001. "Information Gatekeepers on the Internet and the Competitiveness of Homogeneous Product Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 454-474, June.
- Leibtag, Ephraim S. & Barker, Catherine & Dutko, Paula, 2010. "How Much Lower Are Prices at Discount Stores? An Examination of Retail Food Prices," Economic Research Report 96767, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
- Clay, Karen & Krishnan, Ramayya & Wolff, Eric, 2001.
"Prices and Price Dispersion on the Web: Evidence from the Online Book Industry,"
Journal of Industrial Economics,
Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(4), pages 521-39, December.
- Karen Clay & Ramayya Krishnan & Eric Wolff, 2001. "Prices and Price Dispersion on the Web: Evidence from the Online Book Industry," NBER Chapters, in: E-commerce, pages 521-539 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Karen Clay & Ramayya Krishnan & Eric Wolff, 2001. "Prices and Price Dispersion on the Web: Evidence from the Online Book Industry," NBER Working Papers 8271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Clay, Karen, et al, 2002. "Retail Strategies on the Web: Price and Non-price Competition in the Online Book Industry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(3), pages 351-67, September.
- Simon P. Anderson & André de Palma, 2005.
"Price Dispersion and Consumer Reservation Prices,"
Journal of Economics & Management Strategy,
Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(1), pages 61-91, 03.
- Morgan, Peter & Manning, Richard, 1985. "Optimal Search," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(4), pages 923-44, July.
- Rachel Griffith & Ephraim Leibtag & Andrew Leicester & Aviv Nevo, 2009. "Consumer Shopping Behavior: How Much Do Consumers Save?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(2), pages 99-120, Spring.
- Wilde, Louis L. & Schwartz, Alan., .
"Equilibrium Comparison Shopping,"
184, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
- Dahlby, Bev & West, Douglas S, 1986. "Price Dispersion in an Automobile Insurance Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(2), pages 418-38, April.
- Michael R. Baye & John Morgan & Patrick Scholten, 2006. "Information, Search, and Price Dispersion," Working Papers 2006-11, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Giovanni Dodero).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.