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The Cyclicality of Sales, Regular and Effective Prices: Business Cycle and Policy Implications

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  • Olivier Coibion
  • Yuriy Gorodnichenko
  • Gee Hee Hong

Abstract

We study the cyclical properties of sales, regular price changes, and average prices paid by consumers ("effective" prices) using data on prices and quantities sold for numerous retailers across many US metropolitan areas. Inflation in the effective prices paid by consumers declines significantly with higher unemployment while little change occurs in the inflation rate of prices posted by retailers. This difference reflects the reallocation of household expenditures across retailers, a feature of the data which we document and quantify, rather than sales. We propose a simple model with household store-switching and assess its implications for business cycles and policymakers. (JEL D12, E31, E32, L25, L81)

Suggested Citation

  • Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Gee Hee Hong, 2015. "The Cyclicality of Sales, Regular and Effective Prices: Business Cycle and Policy Implications," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(3), pages 993-1029, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:105:y:2015:i:3:p:993-1029 Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20121546
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce

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