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Market power and the Demsetz quality critique: An evaluation for food retailing


  • Ronald W. Cotterill

    (Food Marketing Policy Center, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269-4021)


This study uses factor analysis to identify five service factors that are modeled with price as endogenous variables in a simultaneous equations framework to test whether a more concentrated market structure is related to higher service levels, which, in turn, are related to higher prices (the Demsetz quality critique) or whether a more concentrated market structure is directly related to higher prices (market power hypothesis). For this study of supermarkets in 34 local markets in six southwestern states, market share and concentration are not significantly related to any service factors. However, concentration has a significant positive relationship with price in the full sample, and share also is significantly related to price in subsamples of large, leading firms. Thus, the Demsetz quality critique is rejected. Also coordinated rather than unilateral effects seem predominant. When examining store size, superstores enjoy economics up to 50,000 square feet, but most of the cost savings are offset by pricing power related to increased services levels. © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Suggested Citation

  • Ronald W. Cotterill, 1999. "Market power and the Demsetz quality critique: An evaluation for food retailing," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(1), pages 101-118.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:agribz:v:15:y:1999:i:1:p:101-118 DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1520-6297(199924)15:1<101::AID-AGR7>3.0.CO;2-2

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hall, Lana & Schmitz, Andrew & Cothern, James, 1979. "Beef Wholesale-Retail Marketing Margins and Concentration," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 46(183), pages 295-300, August.
    2. Demsetz, Harold, 1973. "Industry Structure, Market Rivalry, and Public Policy," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 1-9, April.
    3. MacDonald, James M. & Nelson, Paul Jr., 1991. "Do the poor still pay more? Food price variations in large metropolitan areas," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 344-359, November.
    4. Nelson, Philip & Siegfried, John J & Howell, John, 1992. "A Simultaneous Equations Model of Coffee Brand Pricing and Advertising," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(1), pages 54-63, February.
    5. Evans, William N & Froeb, Luke M & Werden, Gregory J, 1993. "Endogeneity in the Concentration-Price Relationship: Causes, Consequences, and Cures," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(4), pages 431-438, December.
    6. Raymond Deneckere & Carl Davidson, 1985. "Incentives to Form Coalitions with Bertrand Competition," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(4), pages 473-486, Winter.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ronald Cotterill & William Putsis, 2000. "Market Share and Price Setting Behavior for Private Labels and National Brands," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 17(1), pages 17-39, August.
    2. Chih-ching Yu & John M. Connor, 2002. "The price-concentration relationship in grocery retailing: Retesting Newmark," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(4), pages 413-426.
    3. Hovhannisyan, Vardges & Bozic, Marin, 2016. "The Relationship Between Price And Market Structure: Evidence From The Us Food Retail Industry," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 236222, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    4. Ville Aalto-Setälä & Jouko Kinnunen & Katri Koistinen, 2004. "Reasons for high food prices in small market areas: The case of the Åland Islands," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(1), pages 17-29.
    5. Richard J. Volpe & Nathalie Lavoie, 2008. "The Effect of Wal-Mart Supercenters on Grocery Prices in New England," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 30(1), pages 4-26.
    6. Crespi John M. & Marette Stephan, 2009. "Quality, Sunk Costs and Competition," Review of Marketing Science, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-36, August.
    7. Francisco J. Más & Ricardo Sellers, 2006. "Technical Efficiency In The Retail Food Industry: The Influence Of Inventory Investment, Wage Levels, And Age Of The Firm," Working Papers. Serie EC 2006-15, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    8. repec:pdc:jrnbeh:v:13:y:2017:i:2:p:256-269 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Volpe, Richard J., III & Lavoie, Nathalie, 2005. "The Effect of Wal-Mart Supercenters on Grocery Prices in New England," 2005 Annual meeting, July 24-27, Providence, RI 19188, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).

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