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99: are retailers best responding to rational consumers? Experimental evidence


  • Bradley J. Ruffle

    (Department of Economics, Ben-Gurion University, P.O.B. 653, Beer Sheva 84105, Israel)

  • Ze'ev Shtudiner

    (Department of Economics, Ben-Gurion University, P.O.B. 653, Beer Sheva 84105, Israel)


There exist numerous theories that attempt to explain the ubiquitous 99-cent price ending. Most of these theories either do not hold up to inspection or posit irrational consumers who serve as a money pump for firms. We offer an experimental test of Basu's (Econ. Lett. 1997; 54:41-44) rational expectations equilibrium model in which consumers are fully rational. We find partial support for Basu's model. Convergence to the 99-cent equilibrium is faster and more widespread when firms are able to observe the previous pricing decisions of others. By imitating the optimal 99-cent price endings of rational firms, less rational firms display an 'as if' rationality. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Bradley J. Ruffle & Ze'ev Shtudiner, 2006. "99: are retailers best responding to rational consumers? Experimental evidence," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(6), pages 459-475.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:mgtdec:v:27:y:2006:i:6:p:459-475 DOI: 10.1002/mde.1282

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Selten, Reinhard & Stoecker, Rolf, 1986. "End behavior in sequences of finite Prisoner's Dilemma supergames A learning theory approach," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 47-70, March.
    2. Mark Isaac, R. & McCue, Kenneth F. & Plott, Charles R., 1985. "Public goods provision in an experimental environment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 51-74, February.
    3. Charles N. Noussair & Charles R. Plott & Raymond G. Riezman, 2013. "An Experimental Investigation of the Patterns of International Trade," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: International Trade Agreements and Political Economy, chapter 17, pages 299-328 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel Levy & Dongwon Lee & Haipeng (Allan) Chen & Robert J. Kauffman & Mark Bergen, 2011. "Price Points and Price Rigidity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(4), pages 1417-1431, November.
    2. Avichai Snir & Daniel Levy & Alex Gotler & Haipeng (Allan) Chen, 2012. "Not All Price Endings Are Created Equal: Price Points and Asymmetric Price Rigidity," Working Paper series 69_12, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    3. Kaushik Basu, 2004. "Consumer Cognition and Pricing in the 9's in Oligopolistic Markets," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2053, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    4. repec:rim:rimwps:04-07 is not listed on IDEAS

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