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Sales and Advertising Rivalry in Interwar US Department Stores

  • Peter Scott

    ()

    (School of Management, University of Reading)

  • James Walker

    ()

    (School of Management, University of Reading)

Department stores represented one of the most advertising-intensive sectors of American inter-war retailing. Yet it has been argued that a competitive spiral of high advertising spending, to match the challenge of other local department stores, contributed to a damaging inflation of costs that eroded long-term competitiveness. We test these claims, using both qualitative archival data and establishment-level national data sets. Returns to stores’ advertising are shown to have fallen over the period, while own advertising led to retaliatory advertising by rival department stores, which substantially lowered returns on advertising dollars in the 1930s (but not the 1920s).

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Paper provided by Henley Business School, Reading University in its series Economics & Management Discussion Papers with number em-dp2009-05.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: 01 May 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rdg:emxxdp:em-dp2009-05
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  1. Hausman, Jerry, 2015. "Specification tests in econometrics," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 38(2), pages 112-134.
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  6. Peter Scott & James Walker, 2012. "The British ‘failure’ that never was? The Anglo‐American ‘productivity gap’ in large‐scale interwar retailing—evidence from the department store sector," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 65(1), pages 277-303, 02.
  7. Tremblay, Victor J, 1985. "Strategic Groups and the Demand for Beer," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(2), pages 183-98, December.
  8. Slade, Margaret E, 1995. "Product Rivalry with Multiple Strategic Weapons: An Analysis of Price and Advertising Competition," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(3), pages 445-76, Fall.
  9. Romer, Christina D, 1990. "The Great Crash and the Onset of the Great Depression," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(3), pages 597-624, August.
  10. Thomas, Louis A., 1999. "Incumbent firms' response to entry: Price, advertising, and new product introduction," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 527-555, May.
  11. Nelson, Philip & Siegfried, John J & Howell, John, 1992. "A Simultaneous Equations Model of Coffee Brand Pricing and Advertising," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(1), pages 54-63, February.
  12. John H. Cover & M. Artelia Bowne & Gertrude Norris & Vincent J. Cohenour, 1931. "Department-Store Sales and Advertising," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4, pages 227.
  13. Arellano, Manuel & Bond, Stephen, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 277-97, April.
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