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The Magnitude of Menu Costs: Direct Evidence from Large U.S. Supermarket Chains

Author

Listed:
  • Levy, Daniel
  • Bergen, Mark
  • Dutta, Shantanu
  • Venable, Robert

Abstract

We use store-level data to document the exact process of changing prices and to directly measure menu costs at five multistore supermarket chains. We show that changing prices in these establishments is a complex process, requiring dozens of steps and a nontrivial amount of resources. The menu costs average $105,887/year per store, comprising 0.70 percent of revenues, 35.2 percent of net margins, and $0.52/price change. These menu costs may be forming a barrier to price changes. Specifically, (1) a supermarket chain facing higher menu costs (due to item pricing laws that require a separate price tag on each item) changes prices two and one-half times less frequently than the other four chains; (2) within this chain the prices of products exempt from the law are changed over three times more frequently than the products subject to the law.

Suggested Citation

  • Levy, Daniel & Bergen, Mark & Dutta, Shantanu & Venable, Robert, 1997. "The Magnitude of Menu Costs: Direct Evidence from Large U.S. Supermarket Chains," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 791-824.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:espost:206762
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    Keywords

    Menu Cost; Posted Prices; Multiproduct Retailer; Price Rigidity; Sticky Prices; Rigid Prices; Cost of Price Adjustment; New Keynesian Economics; Time Dependent Pricing;

    JEL classification:

    • E12 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Keynes; Keynesian; Post-Keynesian; Modern Monetary Theory
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation

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