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Price Flexibility In British Supermarkets: Moderation And Recession

Author

Listed:
  • Dixon, Huw

    (Cardiff Business School)

  • Seaton, Jonathan

    (Loughborough University)

  • Waterson, Michael

    (Department of Economics, University of Warwick)

Abstract

This paper delivers a significantly different empirical perspective on micro pricing behaviour and its impact on macroeconomic processes than previous studies, largely resulting from the fact that our weekly price data for the three major British supermarkets spans a seven year period including the crisis years 2008-2010. We find that there is a large and significant change in the behaviour of prices from 2008 onwards: prices change more frequently and the average duration of price spells declines significantly. Several of our findings run strongly counter to established empirical regularities, in particular the high overall frequency of regular or reference price changes we uncover, the greater intensity of change in more turbulent times and the numerical dominance of price falls over rises. The pricing behaviour revealed also significantly challenges the implicit assumption that prices are tracking cost changes. JEL classification: E30 ; E31 ; L81

Suggested Citation

  • Dixon, Huw & Seaton, Jonathan & Waterson, Michael, 2014. "Price Flexibility In British Supermarkets: Moderation And Recession," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1041, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:1041
    as

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    File URL: https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/workingpapers/2014/twerp_1041_waterson.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Bliss, Christopher, 1988. "A Theory of Retail Pricing," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(4), pages 375-391, June.
    2. Emmanuel Dhyne & Luis J. Álvarez & Hervé Le Bihan & Giovanni Veronese & Daniel Dias & Johannes Hoffmann & Nicole Jonker & Patrick Lünnemann & Fabio Rumler & Jouko Vilmunen, 2005. "Price setting in the euro area: Some stylized facts from Individual Consumer Price Data," Working Paper Research 74, National Bank of Belgium.
    3. N. Gregory Mankiw, 1985. "Small Menu Costs and Large Business Cycles: A Macroeconomic Model of Monopoly," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(2), pages 529-538.
    4. Huw Dixon & Hervé Le Bihan, 2012. "Generalised Taylor and Generalised Calvo Price and Wage Setting: Micro‐evidence with Macro Implications," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(560), pages 532-554, May.
    5. Rachel Griffith & Ephraim Leibtag & Andrew Leicester & Aviv Nevo, 2009. "Consumer Shopping Behavior: How Much Do Consumers Save?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(2), pages 99-120, Spring.
    6. Daniel Levy & Mark Bergen & Shantanu Dutta & Robert Venable, 1997. "The Magnitude of Menu Costs: Direct Evidence from Large U. S. Supermarket Chains," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 791-824.
    7. Alberto Cavallo, 2015. "Scraped Data and Sticky Prices," NBER Working Papers 21490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Dixon, Huw & Franklin, Jeremy & Millard, Stephen, 2014. "Sectoral shocks and monetary policy in the United Kingdom," Bank of England working papers 499, Bank of England.
    9. Philip Bunn & Colin Ellis, 2012. "Examining The Behaviour Of Individual UK Consumer Prices," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(558), pages 35-55, February.
    10. repec:ecj:econjl:v:122:y:2012:i::p:532-554 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Seaton, Jonathan S. & Waterson, Michael, 2013. "Identifying and characterising price leadership in British supermarkets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 392-403.
    12. Joseph Vavra, 2014. "Inflation Dynamics and Time-Varying Volatility: New Evidence and an Ss Interpretation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(1), pages 215-258.
    13. repec:oup:qjecon:v:129:y:2013:i:1:p:215-258 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Martin Eichenbaum & Nir Jaimovich & Sergio Rebelo & Josephine Smith, 2014. "How Frequent Are Small Price Changes?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 137-155, April.
    15. Huw Dixon & Engin Kara, 2010. "Can We Explain Inflation Persistence in a Way that Is Consistent with the Microevidence on Nominal Rigidity?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 42(1), pages 151-170, February.
    16. Eyal Baharad & Benjamin Eden, 2004. "Price Rigidity and Price Dispersion: Evidence from Micro Data," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 7(3), pages 613-641, July.
    17. Etienne Gagnon, 2009. "Price Setting during Low and High Inflation: Evidence from Mexico," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(3), pages 1221-1263.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chakraborty, Ratula & Dobson, Paul W. & Seaton, Jonathan S. & Waterson, Michael, 2015. "Pricing in inflationary times: The penny drops," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 71-86.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Micro pricing ; price flexibility ; regular prices ; menu costs;

    JEL classification:

    • E30 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce

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