July 2015

The Cyclicality of Sales, Regular and Effective Prices: Comment

Etienne Gagnon, David Lopez-Salido, and Jason A. Sockin


Coibion, Gorodnichenko, and Hong (2015) argue that the CPI underestimates the deceleration in consumer prices during economic downturns because the index fails to account for the reallocation of consumer spending from high- to low-price stores. We show that these authors' measures of inflation with and without store switching suffer from several methodological deficiencies, including an excessive truncation of price adjustments and the lack of a treatment for missing observations. When we address these deficiencies, the authors' key regression results no longer suggest that greater store switching during downturns is a statistically or economically significant phenomenon.

Accessible materials (.zip)

Keywords: Outlet substitution bias, effective prices, inflation measurement

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17016/FEDS.2015.052

PDF: Full Paper

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Last Update: June 19, 2020