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The Evolving Food Chain: Competitive Effects of Wal-Mart's Entry into the Supermarket Industry

  • Emek Basker
  • Michael Noel

"We analyze the effect of Wal-Mart's entry into the grocery market using a unique store-level price panel data set. We use ordinary least squares and two instrumental-variables specifications to estimate the effect of Wal-Mart's entry on competitors' prices of 24 grocery items across several categories. Wal-Mart's price advantage over competitors for these products averages approximately 10%. On average, competitors' response to entry by a Wal-Mart Supercenter is a price reduction of 1-1.2%, mostly due to smaller-scale competitors; the response of the "Big Three" supermarket chains (Albertson's, Safeway, and Kroger) is less than half that size. Low-end grocery stores, which compete more directly with Wal-Mart, cut their prices more than twice as much as higher-end stores. We confirm our results using a falsification exercise, in which we test for Wal-Mart's effect on prices of services that it does not provide, such as movie tickets and dry-cleaning services." Copyright (c) 2009, The Author(s) Journal Compilation (c) 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc..

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Journal of Economics & Management Strategy.

Volume (Year): 18 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 977-1009

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Handle: RePEc:bla:jemstr:v:18:y:2009:i:4:p:977-1009
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  1. Daniel Aaronson, 2001. "Price Pass-Through And The Minimum Wage," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 158-169, February.
  2. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
  3. Jerry Hausman & Ephraim Leibtag, 2009. "CPI Bias from Supercenters: Does the BLS Know that Wal-Mart Exists?," NBER Chapters, in: Price Index Concepts and Measurement, pages 203-231 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Ellickson, Paul, 2005. "Supermarkets as a Natural Oligopoly," Working Papers 05-04, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  5. Thomas J. Holmes, 2008. "The Diffusion of Wal-Mart and Economies of Density," NBER Working Papers 13783, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Frankel, David M. & Gould, Eric, 2001. "The Retail Price of Inequality," Staff General Research Papers 11922, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  7. Emek Basker, 2005. "Job Creation or Destruction? Labor Market Effects of Wal-Mart Expansion," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 174-183, February.
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  9. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:111:y:1996:i:4:p:1211-36 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Vishal P. Singh & Karsten T. Hansen & Robert C. Blattberg, 2006. "Market Entry and Consumer Behavior: An Investigation of a Wal-Mart Supercenter," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 25(5), pages 457-476, September.
  11. Daniel Levy & Mark Bergen & Shantanu Dutta & Robert Venable, 2005. "The Magnitude of Menu Costs: Direct Evidence from Large U.S. Supermarket Chains," Macroeconomics 0505012, EconWPA.
  12. David C. Parsley & Shang-Jin Wei, 1996. "Convergence to the Law of One Price Without Trade Barriers or Currency Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 5654, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Andrew W. Franklin, 2001. "The impact of Wal-Mart supercenters on supermarket concentration in U.S. metropolitan areas," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(1), pages 105-114.
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