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The competitive impact of hypermarket retailers on gasoline prices

Author

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  • Zimmerman, Paul R.

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Zimmerman, Paul R., 2009. "The competitive impact of hypermarket retailers on gasoline prices," MPRA Paper 20248, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:20248
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/20248/1/MPRA_paper_20248.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Jonathan E. Hughes & Christopher R. Knittel & Daniel Sperling, 2008. "Evidence of a Shift in the Short-Run Price Elasticity of Gasoline Demand," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 29(1), pages 113-134.
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    4. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    5. 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 217-233, November.
    6. 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, January.
    7. Davidson, Russell & MacKinnon, James G., 1993. "Estimation and Inference in Econometrics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195060119.
    8. 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, February.
    9. 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.
    10. George Deltas, 2008. "RETAIL GASOLINE PRICE DYNAMICS AND LOCAL MARKET POWER -super-," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(3), pages 613-628, September.
    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.
    12. Rod Anderson & Ronald Johnson, 1999. "Antitrust and Sales-Below-Cost Laws: The Case of Retail Gasoline," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 14(3), pages 189-204, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andreoli-Versbach, Patrick & Franck, Jens-Uwe, 2013. "Actions Speak Louder than Words: Econometric Evidence to Target Tacit Collusion in Oligopolistic Markets," Discussion Papers in Economics 16179, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    2. Haucap, Justus & Heimeshoff, Ulrich & Siekmann, Manuel, 2016. "Selling gasoline as a by-product: The impact of market structure on local prices," DICE Discussion Papers 240, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    3. repec:cai:ecoldc:ecop_210_0001 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Gius, Mark, 2013. "Regulatory restrictions and energy: The impact of the Jones Act on spot gasoline prices," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 1058-1063.
    5. Erwan Gautier & Ronan Le Saout, 2017. "L’ajustement microéconomique des prix des carburants en France," Economie & Prévision, La Documentation Française, vol. 0(1), pages 1-24.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Dealer tank wagon; Hypermarkets; Motor fuel SBC laws; Petroleum; Vertical integration;

    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L71 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Primary Products and Construction - - - Mining, Extraction, and Refining: Hydrocarbon Fuels
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure

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