The Economics of Slotting Contracts
Slotting fees, per-unit-time payments made by manufacturers to retailers for shelf space, have become increasingly prevalent in grocery retailing. Shelf space contracts are shown to be a consequence of the normal competitive process when retailer shelf space is promotional, in the sense that the shelf space induces profitable incremental individual manufacturer sales without drawing customers from competing stores. In these circumstances, retailer and manufacturer incentives do not coincide with regard to the provision of promotional shelf space, and manufacturers must enter shelf space contracts with retailers. Retailers are compensated for supplying promotional shelf space at least partially with a per-unit-time slotting fee when interretailer price competition on the particular product makes compensation with a lower wholesale price a more costly way to generate equilibrium retailer shelf space rents. Our theory implies that slotting will be positively related to manufacturer incremental profit margins, a fact that explains both the growth and the incidence across products of slotting contracts in grocery retailing.
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