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Pass-Through in Retail and Wholesale

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  • Emi Nakamura

Abstract

This paper studies how prices comove across products, firms and locations to gauge the relative importance of retailer versus manufacturer-level shocks in determining prices. I make use of a large panel data set on prices for a cross-section of retailers in the U.S. I analyze prices at the barcode or "Universal Product Code'' (UPC) level for individual stores. I find that only 16% of the variation in prices is common across stores selling an identical product. 65% of the price variation is common to stores within a particular retail chain (but not across retail chains), while 17% is completely idiosyncratic to the store and product. Product categories with frequent temporary "sales'' exhibit a disproportionate amount of completely idiosyncratic price variation. My results suggest that most of the observed price variation arises from retail-level rather than manufacturer-level demand and supply shocks. However, the behavior of prices is difficult to relate to observed variation in costs and demand at the retail level. This suggests that retail prices may vary largely as a consequence of dynamic pricing strategies on the part of retailers or manufacturers, rather than static demand and supply shocks.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13965.

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Date of creation: Apr 2008
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Publication status: published as Emi Nakamura, 2008. "Pass-Through in Retail and Wholesale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 430-37, May.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13965

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  1. Edward P. Lazear, 1984. "Retail Pricing and Clearance Sales," NBER Working Papers 1446, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Patrick J. Kehoe & Virgiliu Midrigan, 2008. "Temporary Price Changes and the Real Effects of Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 14392, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Burstein, Ariel T. & Neves, Joao C. & Rebelo, Sergio, 2003. "Distribution costs and real exchange rate dynamics during exchange-rate-based stabilizations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(6), pages 1189-1214, September.
  4. Nakamura, Emi & Zerom, Dawit, 2008. "Accounting for Incomplete Pass-Through," MPRA Paper 14389, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Aguirregabiria, Victor, 1999. "The Dynamics of Markups and Inventories in Retailing Firms," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(2), pages 275-308, April.
  6. Christian Broda & David E. Weinstein, 2010. "Product Creation and Destruction: Evidence and Price Implications," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 691-723, June.
  7. Engel, Charles, 1993. "Real exchange rates and relative prices : An empirical investigation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 35-50, August.
  8. Emi Nakamura & Jón Steinsson, 2008. "Five Facts about Prices: A Reevaluation of Menu Cost Models," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1415-1464, November.
  9. Xavier Drèze & David R. Bell, 2003. "Creating Win–Win Trade Promotions: Theory and Empirical Analysis of Scan-Back Trade Deals," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 22(1), pages 16-39, November.
  10. Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg & Rebecca Hellerstein, 2013. "A Structural Approach to Identifying the Sources of Local Currency Price Stability," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(1), pages 175-210.
  11. Daniel Hosken & David Reiffen, 2004. "Patterns of Retail Price Variation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 35(1), pages 128-146, Spring.
  12. Sobel, Joel, 1984. "The Timing of Sales," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 353-68, July.
  13. Varian, Hal R, 1980. "A Model of Sales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 651-59, September.
  14. Leibtag, Ephraim S. & Nakamura, Alice & Nakamura, Emi & Zerom, Dawit, 2007. "Cost Pass-Through In The U.S. Coffee Industry," Economic Research Report 7253, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
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