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Selling a Cheaper Mousetrap: Wal-Marts Effect on Retail Prices

I quantify the price effect of a low-cost entrant on retail prices using a case-study approach. I consider the effect of Wal-Mart entry on average city-level prices of various consumer goods by exploiting variation in the timing of store entry. The analysis combines two unique data sets, one containing opening dates of all US Wal-Mart stores and the other containing average quarterly retail prices of several narrowly-defined commonly-purchased goods over the period 1982-2002. I focus on 10 specific items likely to be sold at Wal-Mart stores and analyze their price dynamics in 165 US cities before and after Wal-Mart entry. An instrumental-variables specification corrects for measurement error in Wal-Mart entry dates. I find robust price effects for several products, including shampoo, toothpaste, and laundry detergent; magnitudes vary by product and specification, but generally range from 1.5-3% in the short run and four times as much in the long-run.

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File URL: http://economics.missouri.edu/working-papers/2004/wp0401_basker.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Missouri in its series Working Papers with number 0401.

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Length: 36 pgs.
Date of creation: 20 Oct 2004
Date of revision: 16 Mar 2004
Publication status: Published in Journal of Urban Economics, 58:2 (September 2005), pp. 203-229
Handle: RePEc:umc:wpaper:0401
Contact details of provider: Postal: 118 Professional Building, Columbia, MO 65211
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Web page: http://economics.missouri.edu/
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  1. Parsley, David C & Wei, Shang-Jin, 1996. "Convergence to the Law of One Price without Trade Barriers or Currency Fluctuations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(4), pages 1211-36, November.
  2. David M. Frankel, 2000. "The Retail Price of Inequality," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0577, Econometric Society.
  3. Jerry Hausman & Ephraim Leibtag, 2009. "CPI Bias from Supercenters: Does the BLS Know that Wal-Mart Exists?," NBER Chapters, in: Price Index Concepts and Measurement, pages 203-231 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Thomas J. Kane & Cecilia Elena Rouse & Douglas Staiger, 1999. "Estimating Returns to Schooling When Schooling is Misreported," NBER Working Papers 7235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Sam Peltzman, 2000. "Prices Rise Faster than They Fall," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 466-502, June.
  6. Jeffrey R. Campbell & Hugo Hopenhayn, 2003. "Market size matters," Working Paper Series WP-03-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  7. Jennifer F. Reinganum, 1978. "A Simple Model of Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Discussion Papers 335, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  8. Judith A. Chevalier & Anil K. Kashyap & Peter E. Rossi, 2000. "Why Don't Prices Rise During Periods of Peak Demand? Evidence from Scanner Data," NBER Working Papers 7981, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Bresnahan, T.F & Reiss, P.C., 1989. "Entry And Competition In Concentrated Markets," Papers 151, Stanford - Studies in Industry Economics.
  10. Emek Basker, 2003. "Job Creation or Destruction? Labor-Market Effects of Wal-Mart Expansion," Labor and Demography 0303002, EconWPA, revised 11 Mar 2005.
  11. Thomas J. Kane & Cecilia Rouse & Douglas Staiger, 1999. "Estimating Returns to Schooling When Schooling is Misreported," Working Papers 798, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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