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The First of the Month Effect: Consumer Behavior and Store Responses

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Listed:
  • Justine Hastings
  • Ebonya Washington

Abstract

Previous research has demonstrated that benefit recipients decrease expenditures on, and consumption of, food throughout the benefit month. Using detailed grocery store scanner data, we ask two questions: whether cycling is due to a desire for variety that leads to within-month substitution across product quality, and whether cycling is driven by countercyclical retail pricing. We find that the decrease in food expenditures is largely driven by reductions in quantity, not quality, and that prices for foods purchased by benefit households vary pro-cyclically with demand, implying that households could save money by delaying their food purchases until later in the month. (JEL D12, I38)

Suggested Citation

  • Justine Hastings & Ebonya Washington, 2010. "The First of the Month Effect: Consumer Behavior and Store Responses," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 142-162, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:2:y:2010:i:2:p:142-62
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.2.2.142
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. MacDonald, James M, 2000. "Demand, Information, and Competition: Why Do Food Prices Fall at Seasonal Demand Peaks?," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1), pages 27-45, March.
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    4. Altonji Joseph G & Villanueva Ernesto, 2007. "The Marginal Propensity to Spend on Adult Children," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-52, February.
    5. Judith A. Chevalier & Anil K. Kashyap & Peter E. Rossi, 2003. "Why Don't Prices Rise During Periods of Peak Demand? Evidence from Scanner Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 15-37, March.
    6. Parke E. Wilde & Christine K. Ranney, 2000. "The Monthly Food Stamp Cycle: Shooping Frequency and Food Intake Decisions in an Endogenous Switching Regression Framework," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 82(1), pages 200-213.
    7. Elizabeth J. Warner & Robert B. Barsky, 1995. "The Timing and Magnitude of Retail Store Markdowns: Evidence from Weekends and Holidays," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(2), pages 321-352.
    8. Shapiro, Jesse M., 2005. "Is there a daily discount rate? Evidence from the food stamp nutrition cycle," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 303-325, February.
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    11. Dobkin, Carlos & Puller, Steven L., 2007. "The effects of government transfers on monthly cycles in drug abuse, hospitalization and mortality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2137-2157, December.
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    13. repec:pri:cepsud:165rothstein is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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