IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/oup/qjecon/v134y2019i4p2011-2084..html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Uniform Pricing in U.S. Retail Chains

Author

Listed:
  • Stefano DellaVigna
  • Matthew Gentzkow

Abstract

We show that most U.S. food, drugstore, and mass-merchandise chains charge nearly uniform prices across stores, despite wide variation in consumer demographics and competition. Demand estimates reveal substantial within-chain variation in price elasticities and suggest that the median chain sacrifices ${\$}$16 million of annual profit relative to a benchmark of optimal prices. In contrast, differences in average prices between chains are broadly consistent with the optimal benchmark. We discuss a range of explanations for nearly uniform pricing, highlighting managerial inertia and brand image concerns as mechanisms frequently mentioned by industry participants. Relative to our optimal benchmark, uniform pricing may significantly increase the prices paid by poorer households relative to the rich, dampen the response of prices to local economic shocks, alter the analysis of mergers in antitrust, and shift the incidence of intranational trade costs.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefano DellaVigna & Matthew Gentzkow, 2019. "Uniform Pricing in U.S. Retail Chains," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 134(4), pages 2011-2084.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:134:y:2019:i:4:p:2011-2084.
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/qje/qjz019
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow, 2004. "Some Evidence on the Importance of Sticky Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 947-985, October.
    2. Christian Broda & David E. Weinstein, 2008. "Understanding International Price Differences Using Barcode Data," NBER Working Papers 14017, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2018. "Shrouded attributes, consumer myopia and information suppression in competitive markets," Chapters, in: Victor J. Tremblay & Elizabeth Schroeder & Carol Horton Tremblay (ed.), Handbook of Behavioral Industrial Organization, chapter 3, pages 40-74, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. N. Gregory Mankiw, 1985. "Small Menu Costs and Large Business Cycles: A Macroeconomic Model of Monopoly," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(2), pages 529-538.
    5. Johannes Stroebel & Joseph Vavra, 2019. "House Prices, Local Demand, and Retail Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 127(3), pages 1391-1436.
    6. Igal Hendel & Aviv Nevo, 2006. "Sales and consumer inventory," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(3), pages 543-561, September.
    7. Alon Eizenberg & Saul Lach & Merav Oren-Yiftach, 2021. "Retail Prices in a City," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 175-206, May.
    8. Nicholas Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2007. "Measuring and Explaining Management Practices Across Firms and Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1351-1408.
    9. Orbach, Barak Y. & Einav, Liran, 2007. "Uniform prices for differentiated goods: The case of the movie-theater industry," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 129-153.
    10. Brian Adams & Kevin R. Williams, 2019. "Zone Pricing in Retail Oligopoly," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 124-156, February.
    11. Miravete, Eugenio & Seim, Katja & Thurk, Jeff, 2013. "Complexity, Efficiency, and Fairness of Multi-Product Monopoly Pricing," CEPR Discussion Papers 9641, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Gee Hee Hong, 2015. "The Cyclicality of Sales, Regular and Effective Prices: Business Cycle and Policy Implications," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(3), pages 993-1029, March.
    13. Alan L. Montgomery, 1997. "Creating Micro-Marketing Pricing Strategies Using Supermarket Scanner Data," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 16(4), pages 315-337.
    14. Rema Hanna & Sendhil Mullainathan & Joshua Schwartzstein, 2014. "Learning Through Noticing: Theory and Evidence from a Field Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(3), pages 1311-1353.
    15. Avi Goldfarb & Mo Xiao, 2011. "Who Thinks about the Competition? Managerial Ability and Strategic Entry in US Local Telephone Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3130-3161, December.
    16. Ali Hortaçsu & Fernando Luco & Steven L. Puller & Dongni Zhu, 2019. "Does Strategic Ability Affect Efficiency? Evidence from Electricity Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(12), pages 4302-4342, December.
    17. Xavier Jaravel, 2016. "The Unequal Gains from Product Innovations," 2016 Meeting Papers 437, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    18. Jessie Handbury & David E. Weinstein, 2015. "Goods Prices and Availability in Cities," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(1), pages 258-296.
    19. Ben Shiller & Joel Waldfogel, 2011. "Music for a Song: An Empirical Look at Uniform Pricing and Its Alternatives," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(4), pages 630-660, December.
    20. Igal Hendel & Aviv Nevo, 2006. "Sales and Consumer Inventory," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 37(3), pages 543-561, Autumn.
    21. Liran Einav & Ephraim Leibtag & Aviv Nevo, 2010. "Recording discrepancies in Nielsen Homescan data: Are they present and do they matter?," Quantitative Marketing and Economics (QME), Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 207-239, June.
    22. Emi Nakamura & Jón Steinsson, 2008. "Five Facts about Prices: A Reevaluation of Menu Cost Models," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1415-1464.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Eugenio J. Miravete & Katja Seim & Jeff Thurk, 2020. "One Markup to Rule Them All: Taxation by Liquor Pricing Regulation," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 1-41, February.
    2. Andrea Stella, 2014. "The Magnitude of Menu Costs: A Structural Estimation," 2014 Meeting Papers 436, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Maarten Dossche & Freddy Heylen & Dirk Van den Poel, 2010. "The Kinked Demand Curve and Price Rigidity: Evidence from Scanner Data," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 112(4), pages 723-752, December.
    4. Chi‐Young Choi & Horag Choi & Alexander Chudik, 2020. "Regional inequality in the U.S.: Evidence from city‐level purchasing power," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(4), pages 738-774, September.
    5. Glandon, PJ, 2018. "Sales and the (Mis)measurement of price level fluctuations," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 60-77.
    6. Christopher Hansman & Harrison Hong & Áureo de Paula & Vishal Singh, 2020. "A Sticky-Price View of Hoarding," NBER Working Papers 27051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Ray, Sourav & Snir, Avichai & Levy, Daniel, 2023. "Retail Pricing Format and Rigidity of Regular Prices," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 1-1.
    8. Miravete, Eugenio & Seim, Katja & Thurk, Jeff, 2013. "Complexity, Efficiency, and Fairness of Multi-Product Monopoly Pricing," CEPR Discussion Papers 9641, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Oleksandr Talavera, 2017. "Price Setting in Online Markets: Basic Facts, International Comparisons, and Cross-Border Integration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(1), pages 249-282, January.
    10. Edward S. Knotek, 2010. "The roles of price points and menu costs in price rigidity," Research Working Paper RWP 10-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    11. Anderson, Eric & Malin, Benjamin A. & Nakamura, Emi & Simester, Duncan & Steinsson, Jón, 2017. "Informational rigidities and the stickiness of temporary Sales," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 64-83.
    12. Victor Aguirregabiria & Allan Collard-Wexler & Stephen P. Ryan, 2021. "Dynamic Games in Empirical Industrial Organization," NBER Working Papers 29291, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Demetris Koursaros & Nektarios Michail & Niki Papadopoulou & Christos Savva, 2023. "Sales and promotions and the great recession deflation," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 64(1), pages 349-392, January.
    14. Marcella Nicolini & Claudio A. Piga & Andrea Pozzi, 2023. "From uniform to bespoke prices: Hotel pricing during EURO 2016," Quantitative Marketing and Economics (QME), Springer, vol. 21(3), pages 333-355, September.
    15. Messner, Teresa & Rumler, Fabio & Strasser, Georg, 2022. "Cross-country price and inflation dispersion: Retail network or national border," Single Market Economics Papers WP2022/11, Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (European Commission), Chief Economist Team.
    16. Jeff Thurk, 2015. "Measuring the Unequal Implications of One Size Fits All Regulation," 2015 Meeting Papers 1251, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    17. Liang Wang & Randall Wright & Lucy Qian Liu, 2020. "Sticky Prices And Costly Credit," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 61(1), pages 37-70, February.
    18. Kevin J, Fox. & Iqbal A. Syed, 2016. "Price Discounts and the Measurement of Inflation: Further Results," Discussion Papers 2016-05, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
    19. Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg & Rebecca Hellerstein, 2006. "A Framework for Identifying the Sources of Local-Currency Price Stability with an Empirical Application," 2006 Meeting Papers 625, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    20. Kim, Seongeun, 2019. "Quality, price stickiness, and monetary policy," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 1-1.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D9 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics
    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior
    • M31 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising - - - Marketing

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:134:y:2019:i:4:p:2011-2084.. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Oxford University Press (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://academic.oup.com/qje .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.