Selling Constraints

36 Pages Posted: 20 May 2020

See all articles by José L. Moraga-González

José L. Moraga-González

VU University Amsterdam; University of Groningen

Makoto Watanabe

VU University Amsterdam, Tinbergen Institute

Date Written: May 2020


Each firm has one unit to sell of a differentiated product and each consumer has demand for one unit. Consumers queue at the firms, inspect their products if they get the turn, and choose whether to buy or not. We study how selling constraints, which refer to the possible inability of firms to attend to all the buyers who may queue at their premises, affect the equilibrium price and social welfare. Efficient pricing typically involves a positive markup. A higher price, on the one hand, increases the value of trade (because only trades generating positive surplus are consummated) and, on the other hand, reduces the quantity of trade (because fewer buyers can afford paying a higher price). We show that equilibrium markups are inefficiently high except in the limiting situation of no selling constraints, in which case the equilibrium markup is efficient. Thus, selling constraints constitute a source of market power.

Keywords: capacity- and selling-constrained firms, ordered search, price posting

JEL Classification: D4, J6, L1, L8, R3

Suggested Citation

Moraga-Gonzalez, Jose Luis and Watanabe, Makoto, Selling Constraints (May 2020). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP14718, Available at SSRN:

Jose Luis Moraga-Gonzalez (Contact Author)

VU University Amsterdam ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam


University of Groningen

P.O. Box 800
9700 AV Groningen, Groningen 9700 AV

Makoto Watanabe

VU University Amsterdam, Tinbergen Institute ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105,
Amsterdam, North Holland 1081 HV
+31 20 5986030 (Phone)


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