Retail Sales: Do They Mean Reduced Expenditures? German Grocery Evidence
Retail pricing strategies incorporate promotions, sales, and rigidities. A number of models have been proposed in particular to explain the occurrence of sales. Focussing on the market for fresh foods the model by Varian and the loss leader argument seem to be intuitively best fitting to the conditions in the fresh food market. From these models we derive several hypotheses that are tested for a unique data set of the German fresh food retail market. The data set consists of weekly prices for ten food items in 131 grocery shops over the period from 1995 to 2000. Following Varian sales should lead to reduced expenditures, while the loss leader argument assumes that consumers are lured into the shop by promotional sales which are covered by higher prices for other products. The results indicate that expenditures decrease with the number of sales in the short run but this effect is outweighed by a dynamic price adjustment thereafter.
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