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The competitive impact of hypermarket retailers on gasoline prices

  • Zimmerman, Paul R.

Hypermarkets are large retail suppliers of general merchandise or grocery items that also sell gasoline, often at very low margins. Using panel data for 1998-2002, this paper estimates the impact of hypermarkets on average state-level retail gasoline prices. The empirical results suggest a robust, economically (and statistically) significant effect of increased competition from hypermarkets. Furthermore, the results also suggest that refiners’ lower the delivered wholesale prices charged to their affiliated lessee-dealer and open-dealer stations in response to increased hypermarket competition, which in turn translates to lower retail (street) prices. The presence of a state motor fuel sales-below-cost (SBC) law may lessen the price-reducing effects from hypermarket competition by 40-67 percent while independently imparting no other offsetting price reductions. Finally, using recently published estimates of the short-run own price elasticity of demand for gasoline, consumer welfare is estimated to have increased in the neighborhood of $488 million over the sample period.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 20248.

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Date of creation: 18 Jun 2009
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:20248
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  1. Jonathan E. Hughes & Christopher R. Knittel & Daniel Sperling, 2006. "Evidence of a Shift in the Short-Run Price Elasticity of Gasoline Demand," NBER Working Papers 12530, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. John Simpson & Christopher Taylor, 2008. "Do Gasoline Mergers Affect Consumer Prices? The Marathon Ashland Petroleum and Ultramar Diamond Shamrock Transaction," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(1), pages 135-152, 02.
  3. Chouinard Hayley H & Perloff Jeffrey M, 2007. "Gasoline Price Differences: Taxes, Pollution Regulations, Mergers, Market Power, and Market Conditions," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-28, January.
  4. Rod Anderson & Ronald Johnson, 1999. "Antitrust and Sales-Below-Cost Laws: The Case of Retail Gasoline," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 189-204, May.
  5. George Deltas, 2008. "RETAIL GASOLINE PRICE DYNAMICS AND LOCAL MARKET POWER -super-* ," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(3), pages 613-628, 09.
  6. Richard J. Volpe & Nathalie Lavoie, 2008. "The Effect of Wal-Mart Supercenters on Grocery Prices in New England," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 30(1), pages 4-26.
  7. Vita, Michael G, 2000. "Regulatory Restrictions on Vertical Integration and Control: The Competitive Impact of Gasoline Divorcement Policies," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 217-33, November.
  8. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
  9. Evans, William N & Froeb, Luke M & Werden, Gregory J, 1993. "Endogeneity in the Concentration-Price Relationship: Causes, Consequences, and Cures," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(4), pages 431-38, December.
  10. James Alm & Edward Sennoga & Mark Skidmore, 2009. "Perfect Competition, Urbanization, And Tax Incidence In The Retail Gasoline Market," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 47(1), pages 118-134, 01.
  11. Skidmore, Mark & Peltier, James & Alm, James, 2005. "Do state motor fuel sales-below-cost laws lower prices?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 189-211, January.
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