Why Does the Average Price of Tuna Fall During Lent?
NBER Working Paper No. 11572
For many products the average price paid by consumers falls during periods of high demand. We use information from a large supermarket chain to decompose the decrease in the average price into a substitution effect, due to an increase in the share of cheaper products, and a price reduction effect. We find that for almost all the products we study the substitution effect explains a large part of the decrease. We estimate demand for these products and show the price declines are consistent with a change in demand elasticity and the relative demand for different brands. Our findings are less consistent with "loss-leader" models of retail competition.