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Best Prices

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  • Judith A. Chevalier
  • Anil K Kashyap

Abstract

We explore the role of strategic price-discrimination by retailers for price determination and inflation dynamics. We model two types of customers, "loyals" who buy only one brand and do not strategically time purchases, and "shoppers" who seek out low-priced products both across brands and across time. Shoppers always pay the lowest price available, the "best price". Retailers in this setting optimally choose long periods of constant regular prices punctuated by frequent temporary sales. Supermarket scanner data confirm the model's predictions: the average price paid is closely approximated by a weighted average of the fixed weight average list price and the "best price". In contrast to standard menu cost models, our model implies that sales are an essential part of the price plan and the number and frequency of sales may be an important mechanism for adjustment to shocks. We conclude that our "best price" construct provides a tractable input for constructing price series.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16680.

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Date of creation: Jan 2011
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16680

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  1. 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.
  2. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow, 2002. "Some Evidence on the Importance of Sticky Prices," NBER Working Papers 9069, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Martin Pesendorfer, 2002. "Retail Sales: A Study of Pricing Behavior in Supermarkets," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75(1), pages 33-66, January.
  5. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2005. "Lifecycle Prices and Production," NBER Working Papers 11601, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Bart J. Bronnenberg & Michael W. Kruger & Carl F. Mela, 2008. "—The IRI Marketing Data Set," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 27(4), pages 745-748, 07-08.
  7. Aviv Nevo & Konstantinos Hatzitaskos, 2005. "Why Does the Average Price of Tuna Fall During Lent?," NBER Working Papers 11572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1975. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 64, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  9. Judith A. Chevalier & Anil K. Kashyap & Peter E. Rossi, 2000. "Why Don't Prices Rise During Periods of Peak Demand? Evidence from Scanner Data," NBER Working Papers 7981, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Dora Gicheva & Justine Hastings & Sofia Villas-Boas, 2007. "Revisiting the Income Effect: Gasoline Prices and Grocery Purchases," NBER Working Papers 13614, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Peter J. Klenow & Oleksiy Kryvtsov, 2005. "State-Dependent or Time-Dependent Pricing: Does it Matter for Recent U.S. Inflation?," NBER Working Papers 11043, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Bartosz Mackowiak & Frank Smets, 2008. "On implications of micro price data for macro models," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 53.
  13. Varian, Hal R, 1980. "A Model of Sales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 651-59, September.
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  15. Sobel, Joel, 1984. "The Timing of Sales," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 353-68, July.
  16. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. Xavier Gabaix, 2011. "A Sparsity-Based Model of Bounded Rationality," NBER Working Papers 16911, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Martin Berka & Michael B. Devereux & Thomas Rudolph, 2011. "Price Setting in a Leading Swiss Online Supermarket," NBER Working Papers 17126, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Etienne Gagnon & David López-Salido & Nicholas Vincent, 2012. "Individual price adjustment along the extensive margin," International Finance Discussion Papers 1052, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Andrew T. Young & Daniel Levy, 2013. "Explicit Evidence of an Implicit Contract," Working Paper Series 49_13, The Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
  5. Emi Nakamura & Jón Steinsson, 2013. "Price Rigidity: Microeconomic Evidence and Macroeconomic Implications," NBER Working Papers 18705, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Eric Anderson & Emi Nakamura & Duncan Simester & Jón Steinsson, 2013. "Informational Rigidities and the Stickiness of Temporary Sales," NBER Working Papers 19350, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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