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The Evolving Food Chain: Competitive Effects of Wal-Mart's Entry Into The Supermarket Industry


  • Noel, Michael
  • Basker, Emek


We analyze the effect of Wal-Mart's entry into the grocery market using a unique stor-level price panel data set. We use OLS and two IV specifications to estimate the effect of Wal-Mart's entry on competitors' prices of 24 grocery items across several categories. Wal-Mart's price advantage over competitors for these products averages approximately 10%. On average, competitors' response to Wal-Mart's entry is a price reduction of 1-1.2%, mostly due to smaller-scale competitors: the response of the "big three" supermarket chains (Alberson's, Safeway, and Kroger) is less than half that size. We confirm our results using a falsification exercises, in which we test for Wal-Mart's effect on prices of services that it does not provide, such as movie tickets and dry cleaning services.

Suggested Citation

  • Noel, Michael & Basker, Emek, 2007. "The Evolving Food Chain: Competitive Effects of Wal-Mart's Entry Into The Supermarket Industry," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt4nq8d4sm, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsdec:qt4nq8d4sm

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Emek Basker, 2005. "Job Creation or Destruction? Labor Market Effects of Wal-Mart Expansion," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 174-183, February.
    2. Frankel, David M. & Gould, Eric D., 2001. "The Retail Price of Inequality," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 219-239, March.
    3. Andrew W. Franklin, 2001. "The impact of Wal-Mart supercenters on supermarket concentration in U.S. metropolitan areas," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(1), pages 105-114.
    4. Jerry Hausman & Ephraim Leibtag, 2009. "CPI Bias from Supercenters: Does the BLS Know that Wal-Mart Exists?," NBER Chapters,in: Price Index Concepts and Measurement, pages 203-231 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. David C. Parsley & Shang-Jin Wei, 1996. "Convergence to the Law of One Price Without Trade Barriers or Currency Fluctuations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(4), pages 1211-1236.
    6. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
    7. Daniel Aaronson, 2001. "Price Pass-Through And The Minimum Wage," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 158-169, February.
    8. Ellickson, Paul, 2005. "Supermarkets as a Natural Oligopoly," Working Papers 05-04, Duke University, Department of Economics.
    9. Vishal P. Singh & Karsten T. Hansen & Robert C. Blattberg, 2006. "Market Entry and Consumer Behavior: An Investigation of a Wal-Mart Supercenter," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 25(5), pages 457-476, September.
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    More about this item


    Wal-Mart; Retail Prices; Supermarkets; Price Competition;

    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce


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