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The Effect of Wal-Mart Supercenters on Grocery Prices in New England

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Author Info

  • Richard J. Volpe III

    ()
    (Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California at Davis)

  • Nathalie Lavoie

    ()
    (Department of Resource Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst)

Abstract

This study examines the competitive price effect of Wal-Mart Supercenters on national brand and private label grocery prices in New England. For this purpose, we use primary price data collected on a basket of identical products from six Supercenters in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island as well as a sample of conventional supermarkets. Taking into account demographics, store characteristics, and market conditions, we estimate the average prices charged by (1) Supercenters, (2) supermarkets competing directly with Supercenters, and by (3) supermarkets geographically distant from Supercenters. By comparing prices at competing stores and at distant stores, we show that the effect of Wal-Mart Supercenters is to decrease prices by 6 to 7 percent for national brand goods and 3 to 7 percent for private label goods. Price decreases are most significant in the dry grocery and dairy departments. Moreover, Wal-Mart sets prices significantly lower than its competitors in the food industry.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Resource Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2006-8.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:dre:wpaper:2006-8

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Keywords: Wal-Mart; Supermarket Competition; Grocery Prices; National Brands; Private Labels;

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References

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  1. Cotterill, Ronald W, 1986. "Market Power in the Retail Food Industry: Evidence from Vermont," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(3), pages 379-86, August.
  2. Jones, Eugene, 2004. "Supermarket Pricing And Game Theory: The Presence Of Wal-Mart," 2004 Annual meeting, August 1-4, Denver, CO 20108, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  3. Chih-ching Yu & John M. Connor, 2002. "The price-concentration relationship in grocery retailing: Retesting Newmark," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(4), pages 413-426.
  4. Zhiqi Chen, 2001. "Dominant Retailers and the Countervailing Power Hypothesis," Carleton Economic Papers 01-05, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised 2003.
  5. Paul Dobson & Michael Waterson, 1999. "Retailer power: recent developments and policy implications," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 14(28), pages 133-164, 04.
  6. Jerry Hausman & Ephraim Leibtag, 2006. "Consumer Benefits from Increased Competition in Shopping Outlets: Measuring the Effect of Wal-Mart," CeMMAP working papers CWP06/06, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  7. Binkley, James K. & Connor, John M., 1996. "Market Competition And Metropolitan-Area Grocery Prices," Working Papers 25988, Regional Research Project NE-165 Private Strategies, Public Policies, and Food System Performance.
  8. Sanjay K. Dhar & Stephen J. Hoch, 1997. "Why Store Brand Penetration Varies by Retailer," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 16(3), pages 208-227.
  9. Capps, Oral, Jr. & Griffin, James M., 1998. "Effect Of A Mass Merchandiser On Traditional Food Retailers," Journal of Food Distribution Research, Food Distribution Research Society, vol. 29(1), February.
  10. Ronald W. Cotterill, 1999. "Market power and the Demsetz quality critique: An evaluation for food retailing," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(1), pages 101-118.
  11. Woo, Byung-Joon & Huang, Chung L. & Epperson, James E. & Cude, Brenda J., 2001. "Effect Of A New Wal-Mart Supercenter On Local Retail Food Prices," Journal of Food Distribution Research, Food Distribution Research Society, vol. 32(01), March.
  12. Mills, David E, 1995. "Why Retailers Sell Private Labels," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(3), pages 509-28, Fall.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. Martens, Bobby J. & Dooley, Frank J. & Florax, Raymond J.G.M., 2010. "A Spatial Analysis of the Effect of Entry by Supercenter and Warehouse Club Retailers on Grocery Sales," Journal of Food Distribution Research, Food Distribution Research Society, vol. 41(2), July.
  3. Charles Courtemanche & Art Carden, 2014. "Competing with Costco and Sam's Club: Warehouse Club Entry and Grocery Prices," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 565-585, January.
  4. Todd, Jessica E. & Mancino, Lisa & Leibtag, Ephraim S. & Tripodo, Christina, 2010. "Methodology Behind the Quarterly Food-at-Home Price Database," Technical Bulletins 97799, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  5. Hovhannisyan, Vardges & Stiegert, Kyle W., 2011. "Imperfect Competition between Milk Manufacturers and Retailers in a Midwestern State in the U.S," 2011 Annual Meeting, February 5-8, 2011, Corpus Christi, Texas 98844, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
  6. Bonanno, Alessandro & Ghosh, Gaurav S., 2010. "SNAP Efficacy and Food Access – A Nationwide Spatial Analysis," 115th Joint EAAE/AAEA Seminar, September 15-17, 2010, Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany 116437, European Association of Agricultural Economists;Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  7. Bonanno, Alessandro, 2008. "An Empirical Investigation of Wal-Mart’s Expansion into Food Retailing," Research Reports 149931, University of Connecticut, Food Marketing Policy Center.
  8. Zimmerman, Paul R., 2009. "The competitive impact of hypermarket retailers on gasoline prices," MPRA Paper 20248, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Alessandro Bonanno, 2010. "An empirical investigation of Wal-Mart's expansion into food retailing," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(2), pages 220-242.

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