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

  • Justine Hastings
  • Ebonya Washington

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)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/pol.2.2.142
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

Volume (Year): 2 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 142-62

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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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  1. Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Is there a Daily Discount Rate? Evidence from the Food Stamp Nutrition Cycle," Microeconomics 0304005, EconWPA, revised 21 Apr 2003.
  2. 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.
  3. Warner, Elizabeth J & Barsky, Robert B, 1995. "The Timing and Magnitude of Retail Store Markdowns: Evidence from Weekends and Holidays," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(2), pages 321-52, May.
  4. David Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 2000. "A Debt Puzzle," Documentos de Trabajo 80, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
  5. Greg M. Allenby & Peter E. Rossi, 1991. "Quality Perceptions and Asymmetric Switching Between Brands," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 10(3), pages 185-204.
  6. Jesse Rothstein, 2008. "The Unintended Consequences of Encouraging Work: Tax Incidence and the EITC," Working Papers 1049, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  7. Laibson, David I., 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," Scholarly Articles 4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Joseph G. Altonji & Ernesto Villanueva, 2003. "The Marginal Propensity to Spend on Adult Children," Working Papers 90, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
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