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Use of Scanner Date in Policy Analysis (03-66)

As markets become more segmented and contracts replace spot market transactions, the volume volume of available data associated with those transactions is declining. The data is becoming less representative and therefore, less useful for research. As a result, researchers are increasingly turning to retail scanner data to decipher market workings.

Although expensive, scanner data is plentiful, with links to demographics of individual households. It also provides a window on distributional issues.

At a June 2003 workshop, organized by Farm Foundation and USDA's Economic Research Service, government agency representatives, academics and researchers developed strategies to overcome the methodological challenges of using scanner data for policy analysis. For example, the volume of the data provides a great resource, but also makes working with it difficult.

One set of presentations focused on ongoing research using scanner data. Research topics included the demand for nutritionally enhanced foods, non-alcoholic beverages, and fruits and vegetables. The effect of supermarket promotions on consumer purchase decisions and the use of demand estimation for policy simulation were other topics discussed.

Another session focused on the use of scanner data in calculation of price indices and price changes. Scanner data allow for a very accurate representation of items purchased by consumers, information that can be used when calculating price changes. The benefits and costs of incorporating this information were discussed. Methodological issues were also explored.

Here is a copy of the  workshop program, as well as speaker biographies.  Summaries of the workshop presentations are also available.





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