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Zone Pricing in Retail Oligopoly

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Abstract

We quantify the welfare effects of zone pricing, or setting common prices across distinct markets, in retail oligopoly. Although monopolists can only increase profits by price discriminating, this need not be true when firms face competition. With novel data covering the retail home improvement industry, we find that Home Depot would benefit from finer pricing but that Lowe’s would prefer coarser pricing. Zone pricing softens competition in markets where firms compete, but it shields consumers from higher prices in markets where firms might otherwise exercise market power. Overall, zone pricing produces higher consumer surplus than finer pricing discrimination does.

Suggested Citation

  • Brian Adams & Kevin R. Williams, 2017. "Zone Pricing in Retail Oligopoly," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 2079R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Apr 2017.
  • Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:2079r
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Marie-Laure Allain & Claire Chambolle & Stéphane Turolla & Sofia B. Villas-Boas, 2013. "The Impact of Retail Mergers on Food Prices : Evidence from France," Working Papers 2013-18, Center for Research in Economics and Statistics.
    2. Alberto Cavallo, 2017. "Are Online and Offline Prices Similar? Evidence from Large Multi-channel Retailers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(1), pages 283-303, January.
    3. Øyvind Thomassen & Howard Smith & Stephan Seiler & Pasquale Schiraldi, 2017. "Multi-category Competition and Market Power: A Model of Supermarket Pricing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(8), pages 2308-2351, August.
    4. Cardell, N. Scott, 1997. "Variance Components Structures for the Extreme-Value and Logistic Distributions with Application to Models of Heterogeneity," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(02), pages 185-213, April.
    5. Daniel Levy & Mark Bergen & Shantanu Dutta & Robert Venable, 1997. "The Magnitude of Menu Costs: Direct Evidence from Large U. S. Supermarket Chains," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 791-824.
    6. Alan L. Montgomery, 1997. "Creating Micro-Marketing Pricing Strategies Using Supermarket Scanner Data," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 16(4), pages 315-337.
    7. repec:eee:indorg:v:54:y:2017:i:c:p:1-36 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Sofia Berto Villas-Boas, 2009. "An empirical investigation of the welfare effects of banning wholesale price discrimination," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(1), pages 20-46.
    9. Matthew Grennan, 2013. "Price Discrimination and Bargaining: Empirical Evidence from Medical Devices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(1), pages 145-177, February.
    10. Eizenberg, Alon & Lach, Saul & Yiftach, Merav, 2016. "Retail Prices in a City," CEPR Discussion Papers 11590, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    Cited by:

    1. Eugenio J. Miravete & Katja Seim & Jeff Thurk, 2017. "One Markup to Rule Them All: Taxation by Liquor Pricing Regulation," NBER Working Papers 24124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Stefano DellaVigna & Matthew Gentzkow, 2017. "Uniform Pricing in US Retail Chains," NBER Working Papers 23996, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Zone pricing; Market segmentation; Price discrimination in oligopoly; Micromarketing; Retailing;

    JEL classification:

    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General
    • L61 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Metals and Metal Products; Cement; Glass; Ceramics
    • L20 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - General
    • L67 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Other Consumer Nondurables: Clothing, Textiles, Shoes, and Leather Goods; Household Goods; Sports Equipment
    • L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce

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