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Free Content Consumer Shopping Behavior: How Much Do Consumers Save?

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Abstract:

This paper documents the potential and actual savings that consumers realize from four particular types of purchasing behavior: purchasing on sale; buying in bulk (at a lower per unit price); buying generic brands; and choosing outlets. How much can and do households save through each of these behaviors? How do these patterns vary with consumer demographics? We use data collected by a marketing firm on all food purchases brought into the home for a large, nationally representative sample of U.K. households in 2006. We are interested in how consumer choice affects the measurement of price changes. In particular, a standard price index based on a fixed basket of goods will overstate the rise in the true cost of living because it does not properly consider sales and bulk purchasing. According to our measures, the extent of this bias might be of the same or even greater magnitude than the better-known substitution and outlet biases.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1257/089533009788430616

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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  • The Journal of Economic Perspectives (JEP) attempts to fill a gap between the general interest press and most other academic economics journals. The journal aims to publish articles that will serve several goals: to synthesize and integrate lessons learned from active lines of economic research; to provide economic analysis of public policy issues; to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas among the fields of thinking; to offer readers an accessible source for state-of-the-art economic thinking; to suggest directions for future research; to provide insights and readings for classroom use; and to address issues relating to the economics profession.
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