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The Effect of Wal-Mart Supercenters on Grocery Prices in New England

  • Richard J. Volpe III

    ()

    (Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California at Davis)

  • Nathalie Lavoie

    ()

    (Department of Resource Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst)

This study examines the competitive price effect of Wal-Mart Supercenters on national brand and private label grocery prices in New England. For this purpose, we use primary price data collected on a basket of identical products from six Supercenters in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island as well as a sample of conventional supermarkets. Taking into account demographics, store characteristics, and market conditions, we estimate the average prices charged by (1) Supercenters, (2) supermarkets competing directly with Supercenters, and by (3) supermarkets geographically distant from Supercenters. By comparing prices at competing stores and at distant stores, we show that the effect of Wal-Mart Supercenters is to decrease prices by 6 to 7 percent for national brand goods and 3 to 7 percent for private label goods. Price decreases are most significant in the dry grocery and dairy departments. Moreover, Wal-Mart sets prices significantly lower than its competitors in the food industry.

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Paper provided by University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Resource Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2006-8.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:dre:wpaper:2006-8
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.umass.edu/resec/

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  1. Jerry Hausman & Ephraim Leibtag, 2006. "Consumer Benefits from Increased Competition in Shopping Outlets: Measuring the Effect of Wal-Mart," CeMMAP working papers CWP06/06, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  2. Binkley, James K. & Connor, John M., 1996. "Market Competition And Metropolitan-Area Grocery Prices," Working Papers 25988, Regional Research Project NE-165 Private Strategies, Public Policies, and Food System Performance.
  3. Capps, Oral, Jr. & Griffin, James M., 1998. "Effect Of A Mass Merchandiser On Traditional Food Retailers," Journal of Food Distribution Research, Food Distribution Research Society, vol. 29(1), February.
  4. Chih-ching Yu & John M. Connor, 2002. "The price-concentration relationship in grocery retailing: Retesting Newmark," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(4), pages 413-426.
  5. Jones, Eugene, 2004. "Supermarket Pricing And Game Theory: The Presence Of Wal-Mart," 2004 Annual meeting, August 1-4, Denver, CO 20108, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  6. Woo, Byung-Joon & Huang, Chung L. & Epperson, James E. & Cude, Brenda J., 2001. "Effect Of A New Wal-Mart Supercenter On Local Retail Food Prices," Journal of Food Distribution Research, Food Distribution Research Society, vol. 32(01), March.
  7. Zhiqi Chen, 2001. "Dominant Retailers and the Countervailing Power Hypothesis," Carleton Economic Papers 01-05, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised 2003.
  8. Mills, David E, 1995. "Why Retailers Sell Private Labels," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(3), pages 509-28, Fall.
  9. Cotterill, Ronald W, 1986. "Market Power in the Retail Food Industry: Evidence from Vermont," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(3), pages 379-86, August.
  10. Sanjay K. Dhar & Stephen J. Hoch, 1997. "Why Store Brand Penetration Varies by Retailer," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 16(3), pages 208-227.
  11. Paul Dobson & Michael Waterson, 1999. "Retailer power: recent developments and policy implications," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 14(28), pages 133-164, 04.
  12. Ronald W. Cotterill, 1999. "Market power and the Demsetz quality critique: An evaluation for food retailing," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(1), pages 101-118.
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