Static efficiency in Dutch supermarket chain
In this study, we analyse changes in market power in the Dutch supermarket chain and discuss the effects on welfare. The supermarket chain includes consumers, supermarkets, buyer groups and food manufactures. We look at the theoretical background of market power. Special attention has been paid to recent theories of buyer power of retailers in the vertical chain. Theory suggests that supermarkets can enhance their buyer power by, for instance, using own private brands as an outside option in bargaining with manufacturers. Using firm-level data, indicators reveal that profit margins of both supermarkets and of manufacturers have declined between 1993 and 2005. Hence, competition on these markets seems to have become tougher and mark-ups lower over time. Furthermore, we find no significant empirical indications that supermarkets were able to use their buyer power to shift profits from manufacturers to supermarkets after 1993. Finally, all else equal, in terms of welfare consumers have benefited from fiercer competition in terms of lower prices.
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