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Switching Costs, Firm Size, and Market Structure

  • Simon Loertscher
  • Yves Schneider

In many markets homogenous goods are sold both by large global firms ("chain stores") and small local firms. Surprisingly, chain stores often charge higher prices. Examples include hotels, airlines, and coffe shops. We provide a simple model that can account for these pricing patterns. In this model, consumers face costs when switching from one supplier to another and change locations with a given probability. Consequently, chain stores insure consumers against switching costs. In equilibrium, chain stores charge higher prices, yet attract more consumers. Profits of local stores and chain stores increase with consumer mobility, but the latter do so faster.

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Paper provided by Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft in its series Diskussionsschriften with number dp0515.

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Date of creation: Nov 2005
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Handle: RePEc:ube:dpvwib:dp0515
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