CFDP Revision Date
September 1, 2018
Journal of Economic Literature (JEL) Code(s)
D21, D43, L13
Inventory controls, used most notably by airlines, are sales limits assigned to individual prices. While typically viewed as a tool to manage demand uncertainty, we argue that inventory controls can also facilitate intertemporal price discrimination in oligopoly. In our model, competing ﬁrms ﬁrst choose quantity and then choose prices in a series of advance-purchase markets. When demand becomes less elastic over time, as is the case in airline markets, a monopolist can easily price discriminate; however, we show that oligopoly ﬁrms generally cannot. We also show that using inventory controls allows oligopoly ﬁrms to set increasing prices, regardless of whether or not demand is uncertain.
Dana, James D. Jr. and Williams, Kevin R., "Oligopoly Price Discrimination: The Role of Inventory Controls" (2018). Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers. 134.