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Selling a cheaper mousetrap: Wal-Mart's effect on retail prices

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  • Basker, Emek

Abstract

I quantify the price effect of a low-cost entrant on retail prices using a case-study approach. I consider the effect of Wal-Mart entry on average city-level prices of various consumer goods by exploiting variation in the timing of store entry. The analysis combines two unique data sets, one containing opening dates of all US Wal-Mart stores and the other containing average quarterly retail prices of severalnarrowly-defined commonly-purchased goods over the period 1982-2002. I focus on 10 specific items likely to be sold at Wal-Mart stores and analyze their price dynamics in 165 US cities before and after Wal-Mart entry. An instrumental-variables specification corrects for measurement error in Wal-Mart entry dates. I find robust price effects for several products, including shampoo, toothpaste, and laundry detergent; magnitudes vary by product and specification, but generally range from 1.5-3% in the short run and four times as much in the long-run.
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  • Basker, Emek, 2005. "Selling a cheaper mousetrap: Wal-Mart's effect on retail prices," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 203-229, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:juecon:v:58:y:2005:i:2:p:203-229
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    Cited by:

    1. Neumark, David & Zhang, Junfu & Ciccarella, Stephen, 2008. "The effects of Wal-Mart on local labor markets," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 405-430, March.
    2. repec:eee:jouret:v:92:y:2016:i:2:p:218-225 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Rosario Rivero & Rodrigo Vergara, 2007. "Do large retailers affect employment? Evidence from an emerging economy," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(1), pages 65-68.
    4. Charles Courtemanche & Art Carden, 2014. "Competing with Costco and Sam's Club: Warehouse Club Entry and Grocery Prices," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 565-585, January.
    5. Emek Basker & Muhammad Taimur Khan, 2016. "Does the Minimum Wage Bite into Fast-Food Prices?," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 129-148, June.
    6. Pope, Devin G. & Pope, Jaren C., 2015. "When Walmart comes to town: Always low housing prices? Always?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 1-13.
    7. Courtemanche, Charles & Carden, Art, 2011. "Supersizing supercenters? The impact of Walmart Supercenters on body mass index and obesity," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 165-181, March.
    8. Javorcik, Beata S. & Li, Yue, 2013. "Do the biggest aisles serve a brighter future? Global retail chains and their implications for Romania," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 348-363.
    9. Loreto Lira & Rosario Rivero & Rodrigo Vergara, 2005. "Entry and Prices: Evidence from the Chilean Supermarket Industry," Documentos de Trabajo 299, Instituto de Economia. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile..
    10. Amin, Mohammad, 2015. "Competition and labor productivity in India's retail stores," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 57-68.
    11. Iacovone, Leonardo & Javorcik, Beata & Keller, Wolfgang & Tybout, James, 2015. "Supplier responses to Walmart's invasion in Mexico," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1), pages 1-15.
    12. Glaeser, Edward L. & Rosenthal, Stuart S. & Strange, William C., 2010. "Urban economics and entrepreneurship," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 1-14, January.
    13. Tarun Sabarwal & Randal Watson, 2010. "Large stores and contracting for mall locations," WORKING PAPERS SERIES IN THEORETICAL AND APPLIED ECONOMICS 201007, University of Kansas, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2010.
    14. Abe, Naohito & Kawaguchi, Daiji, 2010. "Incumbent's price response to new entry: The case of Japanese supermarkets," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 196-212, June.
    15. Zipitría, Leandro, 2011. "Impacto económico del Supermercadismo
      [The Economics of Supermarkets: A Brief Literature Review]
      ," MPRA Paper 28419, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Iacovone, Leonardo & Javorcik, Beata & Keller, Wolfgang & Tybout, James R, 2011. "Supplier Responses to Wal-Mart's Invasion in Mexico," CEPR Discussion Papers 8540, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    17. Zhou, Tingyu & Clapp, John M., 2015. "The location of new anchor stores within metropolitan areas," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 87-107.
    18. Borrescio-Higa, Florencia, 2015. "Can Walmart make us healthier? Prescription drug prices and health care utilization," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 37-53.
    19. Igan, Deniz & Suzuki, Junichi, 2012. "The “Wal-Mart effect” in central and eastern Europe," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 194-210.
    20. Bonanno, Alessandro & Lopez, Rigoberto A., 2012. "Wal-Mart's monopsony power in metro and non-metro labor markets," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 569-579.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation

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