Seemingly competitive food retail regulations : who do they really help ?
The food distribution and retail sectors in Quebec are highly concentrated and integrated as large food distributors are also involved in food retailing. As such, they are competing with small grocery and convenience stores they sell inputs to. A review of the industry suggests that there are important economies of size in distribution, but that smaller stores offering convenience face a more inelastic demand. Concerns over the survival of smaller stores in Quebec have motivated two types of regulations. The first type aims at reducing the cost advantage of dominant retailers by restricting the number of employees that they are allowed to use during specific time periods. The second type restricts retail prices. We develop a simple model capturing the main features of the industry to ascertain the impact of these regulations on retail and wholesale prices. Our results suggest that these regulations reduce welfare and may induce both tighter margins and lower surplus for small retailers.
|Date of creation:||2008|
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