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The effects of resale price maintenance laws on petrol prices and station attrition: empirical evidence from Wisconsin

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  • J. Isaac Brannon

Abstract

The state of Wisconsin's Unfair Sales Act prevents the sale of any item below cost in order to attract business, and specifically requires petrol (gasoline) stations to mark up their prices by at least 6% over the wholesale price. While the ostensible reason for this law is to protect small, independent retailers and thus enhance competition, the evidence suggests that the primary result of this law has been to inflate the price of petrol for Wisconsin consumers and facilitate tacit collusion in retail petrol markets. Petrol prices in two major markets in the state are examined, as well as in one market outside of the state where no minimum markup is required. The data show that when the penalties for violating the Unfair Sales Act were strengthened, the average markup of retail petrol over the wholesale price increased significantly in Wisconsin without a commensurate change in the average markup in the market outside of Wisconsin. It is also found that price dispersion is significantly lower over a two-year period in the protected Wisconsin market than in the unprotected markets.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Isaac Brannon, 2003. "The effects of resale price maintenance laws on petrol prices and station attrition: empirical evidence from Wisconsin," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(3), pages 343-349.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:35:y:2003:i:3:p:343-349
    DOI: 10.1080/00036840210150857
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Baumol, William J, 1982. "Contestable Markets: An Uprising in the Theory of Industry Structure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 1-15, March.
    2. Severin Boreinstein & Andrea Shepard, 1996. "Dynamic Pricing in Retail Gasoline Markets," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(3), pages 429-451, Autumn.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bolotova, Yuliya & Connor, John M. & Miller, Douglas J., 2008. "The impact of collusion on price behavior: Empirical results from two recent cases," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 1290-1307, November.
    2. Doyle, Joseph & Muehlegger, Erich & Samphantharak, Krislert, 2010. "Edgeworth cycles revisited," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 651-660, May.
    3. Juan Jiménez & Jordi Perdiguero, 2012. "Does Rigidity of Prices Hide Collusion?," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 41(3), pages 223-248, November.
    4. Kenji, Matsui, 2011. "Resale price maintenance for supply chains distributing products with demand uncertainty," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(2), pages 375-387, December.

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