IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/pen/papers/16-001.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Relative Price Dispersion: Evidence and Theory

Author

Listed:
  • Greg Kaplan

    (Department of Economics, University of Chicago)

  • Guido Menzio

    (Departmemt of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Leena Rudanko

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia)

  • Nicholas Trachter

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond)

Abstract

We use a large dataset on retail pricing to document that a sizeable portion of the cross-sectional variation in the price at which the same good trades in the same period and in the same market is due to the fact that stores that are, on average, equally expensive set persistently different prices for the same good. We refer to this phenomenon as relative price dispersion. We argue that relative price dispersion stems from sellers’ attempts to discriminate between high-valuation buyers who need to make all of their purchases in the same store, and low-valuation buyers who are willing to purchase different items from different stores. We calibrate our theory and show that it is not only consistent with the extent and sources of dispersion in the price that different sellers charge for the same good, but also with the extent and sources of dispersion in the prices that different households pay for the same basket of goods, as well as with the relationship between prices paid and the number of stores visited by different households.

Suggested Citation

  • Greg Kaplan & Guido Menzio & Leena Rudanko & Nicholas Trachter, 2016. "Relative Price Dispersion: Evidence and Theory," PIER Working Paper Archive 16-001, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 01 Jan 2016.
  • Handle: RePEc:pen:papers:16-001
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://economics.sas.upenn.edu/sites/default/files/filevault/wp%2016-001_1.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. George Alessandria & Joseph P. Kaboski & Virgiliu Midrigan, 2010. "Inventories, Lumpy Trade, and Large Devaluations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2304-2339, December.
    2. Greg Kaplan, 2012. "Inequality and the life cycle," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 3(3), pages 471-525, November.
    3. Albrecht, James W & Axell, Bo, 1984. "An Equilibrium Model of Search Unemployment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(5), pages 824-840, October.
    4. Guido Menzio & Nicholas Trachter, 2018. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion Across and Within Stores," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 28, pages 205-220, April.
    5. Susan E. Woodward & Robert E. Hall, 2012. "Diagnosing Consumer Confusion and Sub-optimal Shopping Effort: Theory and Mortgage-Market Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3249-3276, December.
    6. Manolis Galenianos & Rosalie Liccardo Pacula & Nicola Persico, 2012. "A Search-Theoretic Model of the Retail Market for Illicit Drugs," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 79(3), pages 1239-1269.
    7. Rafael Rob, 1985. "Equilibrium Price Distributions," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 52(3), pages 487-504.
    8. Stigler, George J., 2011. "Economics of Information," Ekonomicheskaya Politika / Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 5, pages 35-49.
    9. Varian, Hal R, 1980. "A Model of Sales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 651-659, September.
    10. Victor Aguirregabiria, 1999. "The Dynamics of Markups and Inventories in Retailing Firms," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 66(2), pages 275-308.
    11. Reinganum, Jennifer F, 1979. "A Simple Model of Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 851-858, August.
    12. Zhijun Chen & Patrick Rey, 2012. "Loss Leading as an Exploitative Practice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3462-3482, December.
    13. Greg Kaplan & Guido Menzio, 2016. "Shopping Externalities and Self-Fulfilling Unemployment Fluctuations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 124(3), pages 771-825.
    14. John W. Pratt & David A. Wise & Richard Zeckhauser, 1979. "Price Differences in almost Competitive Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 93(2), pages 189-211.
    15. John Conlisk & Eitan Gerstner & Joel Sobel, 1984. "Cyclic Pricing by a Durable Goods Monopolist," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 99(3), pages 489-505.
    16. Saul Lach, 2002. "Existence And Persistence Of Price Dispersion: An Empirical Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 433-444, August.
    17. Joel Sobel, 1984. "The Timing of Sales," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 51(3), pages 353-368.
    18. Erik Brynjolfsson & Michael D. Smith, 2000. "Frictionless Commerce? A Comparison of Internet and Conventional Retailers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(4), pages 563-585, April.
    19. James Albrecht & Fabien Postel‐Vinay & Susan Vroman, 2013. "An Equilibrium Search Model Of Synchronized Sales," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 54(2), pages 473-493, May.
    20. Han Hong & Matthew Shum, 2006. "Using price distributions to estimate search costs," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(2), pages 257-275, June.
    21. Andrew Rhodes & Jidong Zhou, 2019. "Consumer Search and Retail Market Structure," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 67(6), pages 2607-2623, June.
    22. Dahlby, Bev & West, Douglas S, 1986. "Price Dispersion in an Automobile Insurance Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(2), pages 418-438, April.
    23. Jidong Zhou, 2014. "Multiproduct Search and the Joint Search Effect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(9), pages 2918-2939, September.
    24. repec:hal:spmain:info:hdl:2441/11qd47gdim8v799d6edke9i68q is not listed on IDEAS
    25. Richard Blundell & Ian Preston, 1998. "Consumption Inequality and Income Uncertainty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 113(2), pages 603-640.
    26. Alan T. Sorensen, 2000. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion in Retail Markets for Prescription Drugs," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 833-862, August.
    27. Andrew Rhodes, 2015. "Multiproduct Retailing," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 82(1), pages 360-390.
    28. Burdett, Kenneth & Judd, Kenneth L, 1983. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(4), pages 955-969, July.
    29. Gerard R. Butters, 1977. "Equilibrium Distributions of Sales and Advertising Prices," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 44(3), pages 465-491.
    30. Rajiv Lal & Carmen Matutes, 1989. "Price Competition in Multimarket Duopolies," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 20(4), pages 516-537, Winter.
    31. McAfee R. Preston, 1995. "Multiproduct Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 83-105, October.
    32. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1987. "Competition and the Number of Firms in a Market: Are Duopolies More Competitive than Atomistic Markets?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(5), pages 1041-1061, October.
    33. Stahl, Dale O, II, 1989. "Oligopolistic Pricing with Sequential Consumer Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 700-712, September.
    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. Greg Kaplan & Guido Menzio, 2015. "The Morphology Of Price Dispersion," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 56(4), pages 1165-1206, November.
    2. Anania, Giovanni & Nisticò, Rosanna, 2014. "Price dispersion and seller heterogeneity in retail food markets," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 190-201.
    3. Anania, Giovanni & Nistico, Rosanna, 2012. "Price dispersion, search costs and consumers and sellers heterogeneity in retail food markets," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 125594, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    4. Alfredo Martín-Oliver & Vicente Salas-Fumás & Jesús Saurina, 2005. "Interest rate dispersion in deposit and loan markets," Working Papers 0506, Banco de España.
    5. Moraga-González, José Luis & Wildenbeest, Matthijs R., 2008. "Maximum likelihood estimation of search costs," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(5), pages 820-848, July.
    6. ANDERSON, Simon & de PALMA, André, 2003. "Price dispersion," LIDAM Discussion Papers CORE 2003032, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    7. Burdett, Ken & Smith, Eric, 2010. "Price distributions and competition," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 106(3), pages 180-183, March.
    8. Alfredo Martin-Oliver & Vicente Salas-Fumas & Jesús Saurina, 2008. "Search Cost and Price Dispersion in Vertically Related Markets: The Case of Bank Loans and Deposits," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 33(4), pages 297-323, December.
    9. Barron, John M. & Taylor, Beck A. & Umbeck, John R., 2004. "Number of sellers, average prices, and price dispersion," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 22(8-9), pages 1041-1066, November.
    10. Menzio, Guido & Trachter, Nicholas, 2015. "Equilibrium price dispersion with sequential search," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 160(C), pages 188-215.
    11. Lindgren, Charlie & Daunfeldt, Sven-Olov & Rudholm, Niklas, 2021. "Pricing In Retail Markets With Low Search Costs: Evidence From A Price Comparison Website," HFI Working Papers 18, Institute of Retail Economics (Handelns Forskningsinstitut).
    12. José Tudón, 2021. "Can price dispersion be supported solely by information frictions?," Economic Theory Bulletin, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 9(1), pages 75-90, April.
    13. Fishman, Arthur & Simhon, Avi, 2003. "Can Income Equality Increase Competitiveness?," Discussion Papers 14983, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of Agricultural Economics and Management.
    14. Andrew Rhodes & Jidong Zhou, 2019. "Consumer Search and Retail Market Structure," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 67(6), pages 2607-2623, June.
    15. Jason R. Blevins & Garrett T. Senney, 2019. "Dynamic selection and distributional bounds on search costs in dynamic unit‐demand models," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 10(3), pages 891-929, July.
    16. Xing Zhang & Tat Y. Chan & Ying Xie, 2018. "Price Search and Periodic Price Discounts," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 64(2), pages 495-510, February.
    17. Bakucs, Lajos Zoltan & Ferto, Imre, 2009. "Milk Retail Sales Patterns in a Transition Economy. The Case of Hungary," 83rd Annual Conference, March 30 - April 1, 2009, Dublin, Ireland 50932, Agricultural Economics Society.
    18. Backus, Matthew R. & Podwol, Joseph Uri & Schneider, Henry S., 2014. "Search costs and equilibrium price dispersion in auction markets," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 173-192.
    19. Natalia Fabra & Juan-Pablo Montero, 2022. "Product Lines and Price Discrimination in Markets with Information Frictions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 68(2), pages 981-1001, February.
    20. Maarten C.W. Janssen & Jose Luis Moraga-Gonzalez & Matthijs R. Wildenbeest, 2004. "Consumer Search and Oligopolistic Pricing: An Empirical Investigation," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-071/1, Tinbergen Institute.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Price Dispersion; Equilibrium Product Market Search;

    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • D40 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - General
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation

    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:pen:papers:16-001. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    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: Administrator (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/deupaus.html .

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.