IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/23996.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Uniform Pricing in US Retail Chains

Author

Listed:
  • Stefano DellaVigna
  • Matthew Gentzkow

Abstract

We show that most US food, drugstore, and mass merchandise chains charge nearly-uniform prices across stores, despite wide variation in consumer demographics and competition. Demand estimates reveal substantial within-chain variation in price elasticities and suggest that the median chain sacrifices $16m of annual profit relative to a benchmark of optimal prices. In contrast, differences in average prices between chains are broadly consistent with the optimal benchmark. We discuss a range of explanations for nearly-uniform pricing, highlighting managerial inertia and brand-image concerns as mechanisms frequently mentioned by industry participants. Relative to our optimal benchmark, uniform pricing may significantly increase the prices paid by poorer households relative to the rich, dampen the response of prices to local economic shocks, alter the analysis of mergers in antitrust, and shift the incidence of intra-national trade costs.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefano DellaVigna & Matthew Gentzkow, 2017. "Uniform Pricing in US Retail Chains," NBER Working Papers 23996, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23996
    Note: CF EFG IO ITI LE LS ME PE PR
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w23996.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Alon Eizenberg & Saul Lach & Merav Oren-Yiftach, 2021. "Retail Prices in a City," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 175-206, May.
    2. Miravete, Eugenio J & Seim, Katja & Thurk, Jeff, 2013. "Complexity, Efficiency, and Fairness of Multi-Product Monopoly Pricing," CEPR Discussion Papers 9641, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Brian Adams & Kevin R. Williams, 2019. "Zone Pricing in Retail Oligopoly," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 124-156, February.
    4. Ali Hortaçsu & Fernando Luco & Steven L. Puller & Dongni Zhu, 2019. "Does Strategic Ability Affect Efficiency? Evidence from Electricity Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(12), pages 4302-4342, December.
    5. Ben Shiller & Joel Waldfogel, 2011. "Music for a Song: An Empirical Look at Uniform Pricing and Its Alternatives," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(4), pages 630-660, December.
    6. Liran Einav & Ephraim Leibtag & Aviv Nevo, 2010. "Recording discrepancies in Nielsen Homescan data: Are they present and do they matter?," Quantitative Marketing and Economics (QME), Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 207-239, June.
    7. Emi Nakamura & Jón Steinsson, 2008. "Five Facts about Prices: A Reevaluation of Menu Cost Models," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1415-1464.
    8. Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Gee Hee Hong, 2015. "The Cyclicality of Sales, Regular and Effective Prices: Business Cycle and Policy Implications," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(3), pages 993-1029, March.
    9. Rema Hanna & Sendhil Mullainathan & Joshua Schwartzstein, 2014. "Learning Through Noticing: Theory and Evidence from a Field Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(3), pages 1311-1353.
    10. Jessie Handbury & David E. Weinstein, 2015. "Goods Prices and Availability in Cities," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(1), pages 258-296.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Liang Bai & Sebastian Stumpner, 2019. "Estimating US Consumer Gains from Chinese Imports," American Economic Review: Insights, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 209-224, September.
    2. Johannes Stroebel & Joseph Vavra, 2019. "House Prices, Local Demand, and Retail Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 127(3), pages 1391-1436.
    3. Chi‐Young Choi & Horag Choi & Alexander Chudik, 2020. "Regional inequality in the U.S.: Evidence from city‐level purchasing power," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(4), pages 738-774, September.
    4. Etienne Gagnon & David López-Salido, 2020. "Small Price Responses to Large Demand Shocks," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 18(2), pages 792-828.
    5. Benjamin Eden, 2018. "Price Dispersion And Demand Uncertainty: Evidence From U.S. Scanner Data," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 59(3), pages 1035-1075, August.
    6. Luigi Paciello & Andrea Pozzi & Nicholas Trachter, 2019. "Price Dynamics With Customer Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 60(1), pages 413-446, February.
    7. Sheremirov, Viacheslav, 2020. "Price dispersion and inflation: New facts and theoretical implications," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 59-70.
    8. Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Oleksandr Talavera, 2017. "Price Setting in Online Markets: Basic Facts, International Comparisons, and Cross-Border Integration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(1), pages 249-282, January.
    9. Edward S. Knotek, 2010. "The roles of price points and menu costs in price rigidity," Research Working Paper RWP 10-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    10. Anderson, Eric & Malin, Benjamin A. & Nakamura, Emi & Simester, Duncan & Steinsson, Jón, 2017. "Informational rigidities and the stickiness of temporary Sales," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 64-83.
    11. Etienne Gagnon & David López-Salido & Jason Sockin, 2017. "The Cyclicality of Sales, Regular, and Effective Prices: Business Cycle and Policy Implications: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(10), pages 3229-3242, October.
    12. Nicoletta Berardi & Erwan Gautier & Hervé Le Bihan, 2015. "More Facts about Prices: France Before and During the Great Recession," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 47(8), pages 1465-1502, December.
    13. Nao Sudo & Kozo Ueda & Kota Watanabe & Tsutomu Watanabe, 2018. "Working Less and Bargain Hunting More: Macroimplications of Sales during Japan's Lost Decades," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 50(2-3), pages 449-478, March.
    14. Claudio Michelacci & Andrea Pozzi & Luigi Paciello, 2018. "The extensive margin of aggregate consumption demand," 2018 Meeting Papers 1008, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    15. Brian Adams & Kevin R. Williams, 2019. "Zone Pricing in Retail Oligopoly," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 124-156, February.
    16. Olivier Coibion & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2015. "Is the Phillips Curve Alive and Well after All? Inflation Expectations and the Missing Disinflation," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 197-232, January.
    17. Victor Aguirregabiria & Victor Aguirregabiria & Aviv Nevo & Aviv Nevo, 2010. "Recent Developments in Empirical IO: Dynamic Demand and Dynamic Games," Working Papers tecipa-419, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    18. Eugenio J. Miravete & Katja Seim & Jeff Thurk, 2020. "One Markup to Rule Them All: Taxation by Liquor Pricing Regulation," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 1-41, February.
    19. Chi-Young Choi & Soojin Jo, 2020. "How Do Housing Markets Affect Local Consumer Prices? – Evidence from U.S. Cities," Globalization Institute Working Papers 398, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    20. Nao Sudo & Kozo Ueda & Kota Watanabe, 2014. "Micro Price Dynamics during Japan's Lost Decades," Asian Economic Policy Review, Japan Center for Economic Research, vol. 9(1), pages 44-64, January.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D9 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics
    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior
    • M31 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising - - - Marketing

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23996. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.