Discussion paper

DP16954 The Use of Scanner Data for Economics Research

The adoption of barcode scanning technology in the 1970's gave rise to a new form of data; scanner data. Soon afterwards researchers began using this new resource, and since then a large number of papers have exploited scanner data. The data provide detailed price, quantity and product characteristic information for completely disaggregate products at high frequency and typically either track a panel of stores and/or consumers. Their availability has led to advances, inter alia, in the study of consumer demand, the measurement of market power, firms' strategic interactions and decision-making, the evaluation of policy reforms, and the measurement of price dispersion and inflation. In this article we highlight some of the pro and cons of this data source, and discuss some of the ways its availability to researchers has transformed the economics literature.


Dubois, P, R Griffith and M O'Connell (2022), ‘DP16954 The Use of Scanner Data for Economics Research‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 16954. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp16954