The Competitive Impact of Hypermarket Retailers on Gasoline Prices
Paul R. Zimmerman
U.S. Federal Trade Commission - Bureau of Economics
January 26, 2010
Hypermarkets are large retail suppliers of general merchandise or grocery items that also sell gasoline, often at very low margins. Using panel data for 1998-2002, this paper estimates the impact of hypermarkets on average state-level retail gasoline prices. The empirical results suggest a robust, economically (and statistically) significant effect of increased competition from hypermarkets. Furthermore, the results also suggest that refiners’ lower the delivered wholesale prices charged to their affiliated lessee-dealer and open-dealer stations in response to increased hypermarket competition, which in turn translates to lower retail (street) prices. The presence of a state motor fuel sales-below-cost (SBC) law may lessen the price-reducing effects from hypermarket competition by 40-67 percent while independently imparting no other offsetting price reductions. Finally, using recently published estimates of the short-run own price elasticity of demand for gasoline, consumer welfare is estimated to have increased in the neighborhood of $488 million over the sample period.
Keywords: Dealer tank wagon, Hypermarkets, Motor fuel SBC laws, Petroleum, Vertical integration
JEL Classification: L11, L22, L71, Q40
Date posted: January 28, 2010
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