CFDP 2136

Oligopoly Price Discrimination: The Role of Inventory Controls


Publication Date: June 2018

Pages: 30


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 also facilitate intertemporal price discrimination. In our model, competing firms first choose quantity and then choose prices in a series of advance-purchase markets. When demand becomes more inelastic over time, as in the airline and hotel markets, a monopolist can easily price discriminate; however, we show that oligopoly firms generally cannot. Inventory controls let firms set increasing prices regardless of whether or not demand is uncertain.

Keywords: Capacity-pricing games, Intertemporal price discrimination, Oligopoly models, Inventory controls

JEL Classification Codes: D21, D43, L13

JEL Classification Codes: D21D43L13

See CFDP Version(s): CFDP 2136RCFDP 2136R2CFDP 2136R3