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Retailing and international trade: A survey of the literature


  • Raff, Horst
  • Schmitt, Nicolas


This paper reviews the literature on how retailers, by their individual behavior or as a group, influence international trade flows, and on how trade affects the structure of the retail industry. After reviewing the evidence, we discuss theoretical contributions set in an oligopolistic, game-theoretic framework. An important message coming from these contributions is that when trade liberalization occurs, there is a strong incentive to use vertical restraints to soften price competition in order to mitigate the pro-competitive impact of trade liberalization. We then review contributions that consider retailing at the industry level to discuss what we know about the impact of trade liberalization on structural changes in retailing, such as changes in market concentration and the size distribution of retail firms, on retailers' assortments and even on upfront payments by manufacturers, such as slotting allowances, to gain access to retail shelves. We conclude by discussing some directions for future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Raff, Horst & Schmitt, Nicolas, 2015. "Retailing and international trade: A survey of the literature," Economics Working Papers 2015-02, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:cauewp:201502

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Cheptea, Angela & Emlinger, Charlotte & Latouche, Karine, 2014. "Do exporting firms benefit from retail internationalization? Evidence from France," 2014 International Congress, August 26-29, 2014, Ljubljana, Slovenia 182706, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    2. Angela Cheptea & Charlotte Emlinger & Karine Latouche, 2015. "Exporting firms and retail internationalization. Evidence from France," Working Papers SMART - LERECO 15-13, INRA UMR SMART-LERECO.

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    retailing; international trade; vertical restraint;

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