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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
Phone: (573) 882-0063
Fax: (573) 882-2697
Web page: http://economics.missouri.edu/

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  1. Emek Basker, 2003. "Job Creation or Destruction? Labor-Market Effects of Wal-Mart Expansion," Labor and Demography 0303002, EconWPA, revised 11 Mar 2005.
  2. Jeffrey R. Campbell & Hugo A. Hopenhayn, 2005. "Market Size Matters," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(1), pages 1-25, 03.
  3. 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.
  4. Jerry Hausman & Ephraim Leibtag, 2004. "CPI Bias from Supercenters: Does the BLS Know that Wal-Mart Exists?," NBER Working Papers 10712, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Frankel, D.M., 1996. "The (Retail) Price of Inequality," Papers 23-96, Tel Aviv.
  6. Reinganum, Jennifer F, 1979. "A Simple Model of Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 851-58, August.
  7. Sam Peltzman, 1998. "Prices Rise Faster Than They Fall," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 142, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  8. Bresnahan, T.F & Reiss, P.C., 1989. "Entry And Competition In Concentrated Markets," Papers 151, Stanford - Studies in Industry Economics.
  9. 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.
  10. 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..
  11. 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.
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