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The Aggregate Impact Of Online Retail

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  • Allen Tran

Abstract

To study the impact of online retail on aggregate welfare, I use a spatial model to calculate a new measure of store level retail productivity and each store's equilibrium response to increased competitive pressure from online retailers. The model is estimated on confidential store-level data spanning the universe of US retail stores, detailed local-level demographic data and shortest-route data between locations. From counterfactual exercises mimicking improvements in shipping and increased internet access, I estimate that improvements in online retail increased aggregate welfare from retail activities by 13.4 per cent. Roughly two-thirds of the increase can be attributed to welfare improvements holding fixed market shares, with the remainder due to reallocation. Surprisingly, 8.2 percent of firms actually benefit as they absorb market share from closed stores. Finally, I estimate that the proposed Marketplace Fairness Act would claw back roughly one-third of sales that would otherwise have gone to online retailers between 2007-12.

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  • Allen Tran, 2014. "The Aggregate Impact Of Online Retail," Working Papers 14-23, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:14-23
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    File URL: https://www2.census.gov/ces/wp/2014/CES-WP-14-23.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lesley Chiou, 2009. "Empirical Analysis of Competition between Wal-Mart and Other Retail Channels," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(2), pages 285-322, June.
    2. Allan Collard-Wexler & Jan De Loecker, 2015. "Reallocation and Technology: Evidence from the US Steel Industry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(1), pages 131-171, January.
    3. Glenn Ellison & Sara Fisher Ellison, 2009. "Tax Sensitivity and Home State Preferences in Internet Purchasing," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 53-71, August.
    4. Bresnahan, Timothy F & Reiss, Peter C, 1991. "Entry and Competition in Concentrated Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 977-1009, October.
    5. Jeffrey R. Campbell & Hugo A. Hopenhayn, 2005. "Market Size Matters," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(1), pages 1-25, March.
    6. Guido Menzio & Greg Kaplan, 2013. "Five Facts About Price Dispersion," 2013 Meeting Papers 995, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Costas Arkolakis, 2010. "Market Penetration Costs and the New Consumers Margin in International Trade," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(6), pages 1151-1199.
    8. Morales, Eduardo & Sheu, Gloria & Zahler, Andrés, 2011. "Gravity and extended gravity: estimating a structural model of export entry," MPRA Paper 30311, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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