Imports "R" Us: Retail Chains as Platforms for Developing-Country Imports
Wal-Mart, Toys "R" Us, and other large retail chains are often identified with cheap imports. We use data from the Census of Retail Trade and the International Trade Commission over the period 1997-2002 to test whether big chains serve as platforms for imports from LDCs. Using difference-in-difference specifications we show that Chinese and other LDC imports have increased disproportionately in retail sectors with the sharpest consolidation into chains. To quantify the importance of chain growth to import growth we apply a numerical algorithm that generates marginal propensities to import by firm size. The largest retail firms' propensity to import from China is 17 percentage points higher than that of smaller retailers; the corresponding difference in import propensities from LDCs as a whole is 27 points. The disproportionate growth of large retailers between 1997 and 2002 explains 5% of the overall growth in consumer goods imports, 20% of the growth in consumer goods imports from China, and 22% of the growth in consumer goods imports from LDCs..
|Date of creation:||23 Apr 2008|
|Date of revision:||12 Aug 2008|
|Publication status:||published in American Economic Review (Papers and Proceedings) 2010|
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