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Are Online and Offline Prices Similar? Evidence from Large Multi-channel Retailers

Listed author(s):
  • Alberto Cavallo

Online prices are increasingly used for measurement and research applications, yet little is known about their relation to prices collected offline, where most retail transactions take place. I conduct the first large-scale comparison of prices simultaneously collected from the websites and physical stores of 56 large multi-channel retailers in 10 countries. I find that price levels are identical about 72 percent of the time. Price changes are not synchronized but have similar frequencies and average sizes. These results have implications for national statistical offices, researchers using online data, and anyone interested in the effect of the Internet on retail prices.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 107 (2017)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 283-303

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:107:y:2017:i:1:p:283-303
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20160542
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  1. Alberto Cavallo & Brent Neiman & Roberto Rigobon, 2015. "The Price Impact of Joining a Currency Union: Evidence from Latvia," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 63(2), pages 281-297, September.
  2. Alberto Cavallo & Brent Neiman & Roberto Rigobon, 2014. "Currency Unions, Product Introductions, and the Real Exchange Rate," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(2), pages 529-595.
  3. Michael D. Smith & Erik Brynjolfsson, 2001. "Consumer Decision-making at an Internet Shopbot: Brand Still Matters," NBER Chapters,in: E-commerce, pages 541-558 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Alberto Cavallo & Roberto Rigobon, 2016. "The Billion Prices Project: Using Online Prices for Measurement and Research," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 151-178, Spring.
  5. Alberto Cavallo & Eduardo Cavallo & Roberto Rigobon, 2014. "Prices and Supply Disruptions during Natural Disasters," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 60(S2), pages 449-471, November.
  6. Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Oleksandr Talavera, 2017. "Price Setting in Online Markets: Basic Facts, International Comparisons, and Cross-Border Integration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(1), pages 249-282, January.
  7. Fernando Borraz & Alberto Cavallo & Roberto Rigobon & Leandro Zipitria, 2016. "Distance and Political Boundaries: Estimating Border Effects under Inequality Constraints," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(1), pages 3-35, 01.
  8. Thomas W. Quan & Kevin R. Williams, 2016. "Product Variety, Across-Market Demand Heterogeneity, and the Value of Online Retail," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 2054, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  9. Alberto Cavallo & Guillermo Cruces & Ricardo Perez-Truglia, 2016. "Learning from Potentially-Biased Statistics: Household Inflation Perceptions and Expectations in Argentina," NBER Working Papers 22103, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Erik Brynjolfsson & Yu (Jeffrey) Hu & Duncan Simester, 2011. "Goodbye Pareto Principle, Hello Long Tail: The Effect of Search Costs on the Concentration of Product Sales," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(8), pages 1373-1386, August.
  11. Alberto Cavallo & Guillermo Cruces & Ricardo Perez-Truglia, 2014. "Inflation Expectations, Learning and Supermarket Prices," NBER Working Papers 20576, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Alberto Cavallo, 2015. "Scraped Data and Sticky Prices," NBER Working Papers 21490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Cavallo, Alberto, 2013. "Online and official price indexes: Measuring Argentina's inflation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 152-165.
  14. Krsinich Frances, 2016. "The FEWS Index: Fixed Effects with a Window Splice," Journal of Official Statistics, De Gruyter Open, vol. 32(2), pages 375-404, June.
  15. Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Viacheslav Sheremirov & Oleksandr Talavera, 2014. "Price Setting in Online Markets: Does IT Click?," NBER Working Papers 20819, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Emi Nakamura & Jón Steinsson, 2008. "Five Facts about Prices: A Reevaluation of Menu Cost Models," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1415-1464.
  17. Patrick Lünnemann & Ladislav Wintr, 2011. "Price Stickiness in the US and Europe Revisited: Evidence from Internet Prices," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 73(5), pages 593-621, October.
  18. repec:bla:revinw:v:60:y:2014:i::p:s449-s471 is not listed on IDEAS
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