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Prices Paid in Grocery Markets: Searching Across Stores and Brands



  • James Binkley ( is a Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University.


Using a large sample of prices paid for 21 homogeneous grocery products available in several brands in each of 16 markets, we simulate the search behavior of a consumer following different shopping strategies using as many as four supermarkets. We find that price search can lead to substantial savings. Brand switching can generate savings at least as large as visiting multiple stores to find the lowest price for a single brand. Buying a private label is usually a better way to save than any amount of search for low prices on national brands. A case study in a small metropolitan area grocery market yields results substantially the same as the simulation results.