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Consumer Shopping Behavior: How Much Do Consumers Save?

  • Rachel Griffith
  • Ephraim Leibtag
  • Andrew Leicester
  • Aviv Nevo

This paper documents the potential and actual savings that consumers realize from four particular types of purchasing behavior: purchasing on sale; buying in bulk (at a lower per unit price); buying generic brands; and choosing outlets. How much can and do households save through each of these behaviors? How do these patterns vary with consumer demographics? We use data collected by a marketing firm on all food purchases brought into the home for a large, nationally representative sample of U.K. households in 2006. We are interested in how consumer choice affects the measurement of price changes. In particular, a standard price index based on a fixed basket of goods will overstate the rise in the true cost of living because it does not properly consider sales and bulk purchasing. According to our measures, the extent of this bias might be of the same or even greater magnitude than the better-known substitution and outlet biases.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.23.2.99
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 23 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
Pages: 99-120

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:23:y:2009:i:2:p:99-120
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.23.2.99
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  1. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2007. "Life-Cycle Prices and Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1533-1559, December.
  2. Jerry Hausman, 2003. "Sources of Bias and Solutions to Bias in the Consumer Price Index," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 23-44, Winter.
  3. Hendel, Igal & Nevo, Aviv, 2001. "Sales and Consumer Inventory," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt11x3d68b, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  4. Igal Hendel & Aviv Nevo, 2006. "Measuring the Implications of Sales and Consumer Inventory Behavior," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(6), pages 1637-1673, November.
  5. Jack Triplett, 2004. "Handbook on Hedonic Indexes and Quality Adjustments in Price Indexes: Special Application to Information Technology Products," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 2004/9, OECD Publishing.
  6. Baye, Michael R, 1985. "Price Dispersion and Functional Price Indices," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(1), pages 213-23, January.
  7. 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.
  8. Ian Crawford, 1994. "UK household cost-of-living indices, 1979-92," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 15(4), pages 1-28, January.
  9. Boizot, Christine & Robin, Jean-Marc & Visser, Michael, 2001. "The Demand for Food Products: An Analysis of Interpurchase Times and Purchased Quantities," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(470), pages 391-419, April.
  10. Jerry Hausman & Ephraim Leibtag, 2004. "CPI Bias from Supercenters: Does the BLS Know that Wal-Mart Exists?," NBER Working Papers 10712, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Robert C. Feenstra & Matthew D. Shapiro, 2003. "High-Frequency Substitution and the Measurement of Price Indexes," NBER Chapters, in: Scanner Data and Price Indexes, pages 123-150 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. repec:inr:wpaper:249990 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Michael J. Boskin, 1998. "Consumer Prices, the Consumer Price Index, and the Cost of Living," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 3-26, Winter.
  14. Jack E. Triplett, 2003. "Using Scanner Data in Consumer Price Indexes. Some Neglected Conceptual Considerations," NBER Chapters, in: Scanner Data and Price Indexes, pages 151-162 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Reinsdorf, Marshall, 1994. "The Effect of Price Dispersion on Cost of Living Indexes," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 35(1), pages 137-49, February.
  16. Charles L. Schultze, 2003. "The Consumer Price Index: Conceptual Issues and Practical Suggestions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 3-22, Winter.
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