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How do individual UK consumer prices behave?


  • Bunn, Philip

    () (Bank of England)

  • Ellis, Colin

    () (BVCA and University of Birmingham)


This paper examines the behaviour of individual consumer prices in the United Kingdom, and uncovers a number of stylised facts about pricing behaviour. First, on average 19% of prices change each month, although this falls to 15% if sales are excluded. Second, the probability of price changes is not constant over time. Third, goods prices change more frequently than services prices. Fourth, the distribution of price changes is wide, although a significant number of changes are relatively small and close to zero. Fifth, prices that change more frequently tend to do so by less. We find that conventional pricing theories struggle to match these results, particularly the marked heterogeneity, which argues against the use of ‘representative agent’ models.

Suggested Citation

  • Bunn, Philip & Ellis, Colin, 2011. "How do individual UK consumer prices behave?," Bank of England working papers 438, Bank of England.
  • Handle: RePEc:boe:boeewp:0438

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Judith A. Chevalier & Anil K. Kashyap & Peter E. Rossi, 2003. "Why Don't Prices Rise During Periods of Peak Demand? Evidence from Scanner Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 15-37, March.
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    8. Philip Bunn & Colin Ellis, 2012. "How do Individual UK Producer Prices Behave?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(558), pages 16-34, February.
    9. Jean Boivin & Marc P. Giannoni & Ilian Mihov, 2009. "Sticky Prices and Monetary Policy: Evidence from Disaggregated US Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 350-384, March.
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    11. Hernando, Ignacio & Álvarez, Luis J., 2004. "Price setting behaviour in Spain: stylised facts using consumer price micro data," Working Paper Series 416, European Central Bank.
    12. Nicole Jonker & Carsten Folkertsma & Harry Blijenberg, 2004. "An Emprical Analysis of Price Setting Behaviour in the Netherlands in the Period 1998-2003 Using Micro Data," DNB Working Papers 019, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
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    15. Aucremanne, Luc & Dhyne, Emmanuel, 2004. "How frequently do prices change? Evidence based on the micro data underlying the Belgian CPI," Working Paper Series 331, European Central Bank.
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    18. Kurri, Samu, 2007. "Price changes in Finland: some evidence from micro CPI data," Working Paper Series 728, European Central Bank.
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    Cited by:

    1. Juan Manuel Julio & Javier Guillermo Gómez & Manuel Dario Hernández, 2017. "La Inflación de los Precios Rígidos en Colombia," Borradores de Economia 1007, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    2. Khan Hashmat & Tsoukalas John, 2013. "Effects of productivity shocks on hours worked: UK evidence," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 13(1), pages 1-31, September.
    3. Philip Bunn & Colin Ellis, 2012. "Examining The Behaviour Of Individual UK Consumer Prices," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(558), pages 35-55, February.

    More about this item


    Consumer prices; price-setting behaviour.;

    JEL classification:

    • D40 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - General
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation

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