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Best Prices

Author

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  • Judith A. Chevalier
  • Anil K. Kashyap

Abstract

We explore the role of strategic price-discrimination by retailers for price determination and inflation dynamics. We model two types of customers, "loyals" who buy only one brand and do not strategically time purchases, and "shoppers" who seek out low-priced products both across brands and across time. Shoppers always pay the lowest price available, the "best price". Retailers in this setting optimally choose long periods of constant regular prices punctuated by frequent temporary sales. Supermarket scanner data confirm the model's predictions: the average price paid is closely approximated by a weighted average of the fixed weight average list price and the "best price". In contrast to standard menu cost models, our model implies that sales are an essential part of the price plan and the number and frequency of sales may be an important mechanism for adjustment to shocks. We conclude that our "best price" construct provides a tractable input for constructing price series.

Suggested Citation

  • Judith A. Chevalier & Anil K. Kashyap, 2011. "Best Prices," NBER Working Papers 16680, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16680
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Etienne Gagnon & David López-Salido & Nicolas Vincent, 2013. "Individual Price Adjustment along the Extensive Margin," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 235-281.
    2. Andrew T. Young & Daniel Levy, 2014. "Explicit Evidence of an Implicit Contract," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(4), pages 804-832.
    3. Chakraborty, Ratula & Dobson, Paul W. & Seaton, Jonathan S. & Waterson, Michael, 2015. "Pricing in inflationary times: The penny drops," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 71-86.
    4. Xavier Gabaix, 2014. "A Sparsity-Based Model of Bounded Rationality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(4), pages 1661-1710.
    5. Eric Anderson & Benjamin A. Malin & Emi Nakamura & Duncan Simester & Jón Steinsson, 2013. "Informational Rigidities and the Stickiness of Temporary Sales," NBER Working Papers 19350, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Escobari, Diego, 2014. "Estimating dynamic demand for airlines," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 124(1), pages 26-29.
    7. Martin Berka & Michael B. Devereux & Thomas Rudolph, 2011. "Price setting in a leading Swiss online supermarket," CAMA Working Papers 2011-19, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    8. Emi Nakamura & Jón Steinsson, 2013. "Price Rigidity: Microeconomic Evidence and Macroeconomic Implications," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 5(1), pages 133-163, May.
    9. Andrew T. Young & Daniel Levy, 2014. "Explicit Evidence of an Implicit Contract," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(4), pages 804-832.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E3 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L16 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Industrial Organization and Macroeconomics; Macroeconomic Industrial Structure

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