F.Y.I.: testing the informativeness of regional and local retail sales data
A large collection of published and unpublished retail sales estimates produced by the U.S. Department of Commerce provides potentially valuable current and historical estimates and industry detail for several regions of the country dating back to 1978. Analysts may find these data particularly useful as supplements to published data in monitoring retail spending in some states and metropolitan statistical areas. ; This article examines whether the breadth of detail the data offer can offset such limitations as small sample size and volatility. The author analyzes the information provided by ...
The increasing importance of retailers' inventories
Although inventory--sales (IS) ratios and inventory volatility have declined somewhat since the early 1980s, little evidence supports the view that declining IS ratios are associated with declines in inventory investment volatility. In the retail sector, IS ratios have risen and inventory investment volatility has, at best, not increased, pointing to a more significant role in future cyclical fluctuations.
A decomposition of the sources of incomplete cross-border transmission
Despite its importance, the microeconomics of the international transmission of shocks is not well understood. The conventional wisdom is that relative price changes are the primary mechanism by which shocks are transmitted across borders. Yet traded-goods prices exhibit significant inertia in the face of shocks such as exchange rate changes. This paper uses a structural model to quantify the relative importance of manufacturers' and retailers' local-cost components and markup adjustments as sources of this incomplete transmission. The model is applied to a panel dataset of one industry with ...
Shopping discount: hip or hype?
The past decade has seen a proliferation of factory outlet stores and centers, many of which are located in the Fifth District. Some are even tourist attractions. But will these outlets continue to succeed in the '90s?
Estimating the border effect: some new evidence
To what extent do national borders and national currencies impose costs that segment markets across countries? To answer this question the authors use a dataset with product-level retail prices and wholesale costs for a large grocery chain with stores in the United States and Canada. They develop a model of pricing by location and employ a regression discontinuity approach to estimate and interpret the border effect. They report three main facts: One, the median absolute retail price and wholesale cost discontinuities between adjacent stores on either side of the U.S.-Canadian border are as ...
Yesterday's bad times are today's good old times: retail price changes in the 1890s were smaller, less frequent, and more permanent
This paper compares nominal price rigidity in retail stores during two 28-month periods: 1889-1891 and 1997-1999. The 1889-1891 microdata price quotes show: 1. a lower frequency of price changes; 2. a smaller average magnitude of price changes; 3. fewer "small" price changes; and, 4. fewer temporary price reductions. These differences are consistent with the 1889-1891 period having a higher cost of changing prices resulting in less adjustment to transitory price shocks. Changes in the retailing environment that may have led to a higher cost of changing prices in 1889-1891 are discussed.
IT investment and firm performance in U.S. retail trade
We examine the relationship between investments in information technology (IT) and two measures of retail firm performance: labor productivity and productivity growth over the 1992 to 1997 period. We use untapped firm and establishment micro data from the Censuses of Retail Trade and the Assets and Expenditures Survey. We show that large firms account for most retail IT investment, employment and establishment growth. We find evidence of a significant relationship between IT investment intensity and productivity growth. We found no evidence of a similar link between IT and growth in the ...
What do chain store sales tell us about consumer spending?
Released at both weekly and monthly intervals, chain store indexes provide a timely measure of the sales performance of large retail companies. This article investigates whether the indexes can also play a role in tracking and forecasting consumer spending as a whole. The authors begin by exploring the extent to which developments in chain store sales are representative of retail sales trends overall. They then conduct formal statistical tests of the relationship between chain store data and official measures of total retail sales and personal consumption expenditure. They find that monthly ...