Retail Prices Changes, Then and Now

Fascinating new Fed paper out on the frequence of retail price changes back in 1889-1891 versus 1997-1999. The upshot:

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

The paper goes on to argue that this has a lot to do with the falling cost of changing prices in retail, driven, in part, by large stores and industry concentration, but I would cite dramatic changes in pricing-technology itself.