Why supermarkets are adopting dynamic pricing : Planet Money Dynamic pricing is an increasingly common phenomenon: You can see it when Uber prices surge during rainy weather, or when you're booking a flight at the last minute or buying tickets to your favorite superstar's concert. On an earnings call last week, Wendy's ignited a minor controversy by suggesting it would introduce dynamic pricing in its restaurants, but the company quickly clarified that it wasn't planning on using it for "surge pricing."

One place you hardly ever see dynamic pricing? American supermarkets.

Why is that? Why shouldn't the prices for meat or bread or produce go down as they get older? Why does all the milk in the store cost the same, even when the "sell by" dates are weeks apart? Wouldn't a little more flexibility around prices be better for customers and help reduce waste?

Professors Robert Evan Sanders and Ioannis (Yannis) Stamatopoulus had similar questions. So they set out to discover what was keeping supermarkets from employing a more dynamic approach, and what might convince them it was time for a change ... in pricing.

This episode was hosted by Amanda Aronczyk and Nick Fountain. It was produced by Willa Rubin and edited by Keith Romer. It was engineered by Valentina Rodríguez Sánchez and fact-checked by Sierra Juarez.

Is dynamic pricing coming to a supermarket near you?

Is dynamic pricing coming to a supermarket near you?

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The Norwegian supermarket chain REMA 1000 uses dynamic pricing for all the items in its stores, including Kvikk Lunsj chocolate bars and Solo soda. Jessica Robinson/NPR hide caption

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Jessica Robinson/NPR

The Norwegian supermarket chain REMA 1000 uses dynamic pricing for all the items in its stores, including Kvikk Lunsj chocolate bars and Solo soda.

Jessica Robinson/NPR

Dynamic pricing is an increasingly common phenomenon: You can see it when Uber prices surge during rainy weather, or when you're booking a flight at the last minute or buying tickets to your favorite superstar's concert. On an earnings call last week, Wendy's ignited a minor controversy by suggesting it would introduce dynamic pricing in its restaurants, but the company quickly clarified that it wasn't planning on using it for "surge pricing."

One place you hardly ever see dynamic pricing? American supermarkets.

Why is that? Why shouldn't the prices for meat or bread or produce go down as they get older? Why does all the milk in the store cost the same, even when the "sell by" dates are weeks apart? Wouldn't a little more flexibility around prices be better for customers and help reduce waste?

Professors Robert Evan Sanders and Ioannis (Yannis) Stamatopoulus had similar questions. So they set out to discover what was keeping supermarkets from employing a more dynamic approach, and what might convince them it was time for a change ... in pricing.

This episode was hosted by Amanda Aronczyk and Nick Fountain. It was produced by Willa Rubin and edited by Keith Romer. It was engineered by Valentina Rodríguez Sánchez and fact-checked by Sierra Juarez.

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