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Price Stickiness


Price stickiness, also known as sticky prices, refers to the resistance of a price of goods or services to change, despite shifts in the broad economy. This phenomenon often occurs when businesses are reluctant to change prices due to menu costs and fear of price wars. It can contribute to market inefficiencies as it prevents equilibrium between supply and demand.


The phonetic transcription of “Price Stickiness” is /praɪs ‘stɪkinəs/.

Key Takeaways


  1. What it is: Price stickiness refers to the resistance of a price (or set of prices) to change, despite changes in the broader economy or underlying supply and demand levels. In other words, it’s the tendency for prices to remain constant or to change slowly in response to new economic information.
  2. Causes: Several factors can cause price stickiness, including menu costs (the costs associated with changing prices), the fear of price wars, the existence of implicit contracts with customers or employees, and the use of pricing heuristics or strategies that involve keeping prices constant for a certain period.
  3. Implications: Price stickiness can lead to market inefficiencies. For instance, it may prevent the economy from reaching equilibrium in the short run. Additionally, it is one of the factors that give rise to short-term economic fluctuations and is a central concept in Keynesian economics.



Price stickiness is important in business and finance because it impacts how quickly the economy can adjust to changes in supply and demand. It refers to the tendency of prices to remain relatively stable despite changes in economic conditions. For instance, when costs of production fall or rise, companies may not immediately adjust their prices accordingly, leading to potential inefficiencies in the market. This phenomenon is often due to the costs and complexities involved in changing prices, such as reprinting menus or adjusting digital systems. Moreover, price stickiness can influence monetary policies as central banks need to consider the slow adjustment of prices to economic conditions. Thus, understanding price stickiness is crucial for businesses in making strategic decisions and for policymakers in formulating effective economic policies.


Price stickiness, in the field of finance and business, refers to the resistance of a price (or set of prices) to change, despite shifts in the broad economy that suggest a different price is optimal. This phenomenon often arises due to the costs of changing prices, such as menu costs, the time and effort it takes to update pricing information, or contractual agreements. It could also occur due to behavioral factors like price-setting habits, customer expectations, and the potential backlash from frequent price fluctuations.The purpose of price stickiness comes into play when analyzing market dynamics and economic trends. This concept can help predict how markets might react under different conditions. For example, during a recession, price stickiness may inhibit the downward adjustment of wages, contributing to higher unemployment rates. Moreover, understanding price stickiness also aids in formulating monetary and fiscal policies. Central banks, for instance, may need to employ expansionary policies to combat the effects of price stickiness during economic downturns to stimulate spending and lower unemployment rates. Additionally, businesses can use price stickiness to preserve customer goodwill and stability by not frequently changing prices.


1. Restaurant Menus: Restaurants tend to be an example of price stickiness as they do not change their prices on a daily basis in response to fluctuations in supply and demand. Instead, prices on restaurant menus tend to stay the same for fairly long periods of time, even if the price of ingredients fluctuates. Changing printed menu prices frequently can confuse or annoy customers, which is why restaurants choose to maintain the same prices.2. Retailers: A retailer might purchase a large amount of product inventory to sell over a period of time. If the wholesale price of those items increases or decreases, the retailer may keep the selling price the same in order to avoid confusion and maintain customer loyalty. This is an example of price stickiness because the retail price remains consistent despite a change in the cost of goods sold.3. Gas Stations: While the prices at gas stations do fluctuate more frequently than restaurants or retailers, there is still a degree of stickiness. The prices at the pump do not change in real time with the changes in crude oil prices. This is due to factors like operational costs, competition, and local market conditions, which cause gas prices to adjust more slowly, demonstrating price stickiness.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What does Price Stickiness refer to in finance and business?

Price Stickiness refers to the resistance of a price (or set of prices) to change, despite changes in the broad economy that suggests one is needed.

What are the causes of Price Stickiness?

Price Stickiness can be caused by factors such as menu costs, fear of price wars, customer relationships, and the costs involved in updating systems.

How does Price Stickiness impact the economy?

Price Stickiness can limit the flexibility of the economy, making it harder to respond to changes in supply and demand. This in turn can lead to economic inefficiencies.

Is Price Stickiness considered good or bad for the economy?

There’s no absolute answer. The impact can be negative or positive depending on the specific circumstances. For example, it can lead to stability in prices, which can be beneficial, but it can also prevent necessary price adjustments, which can be harmful.

Can you give an example of Price Stickiness?

An example of Price Stickiness is seen in some physical retail stores where due to the cost of physically remarking prices, they resist frequent price changes.

How does Price Stickiness relate to inflation?

If the prices of goods and services are sticky, changes in the money supply may not immediately cause changes in their prices. Instead, it might cause changes in the quantities of goods produced and consumed. Therefore, it can delay the effect of inflation.

Is Price Stickiness a long-term or short-term phenomenon?

While it can vary, Price Stickiness is often considered a short-term phenomenon as over a long enough period, prices are likely to adjust in response to changes in supply and demand.

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