Internet Rising, Prices Falling: Measuring Inflation in a World of E-Commerce

June 2018
Austan Goolsbee and Peter Klenow

We use Adobe Analytics data on online transactions for millions of products in many different categories from 2014 to 2017 to shed light on how online inflation compares to overall inflation, and to gauge the magnitude of new product bias online. The Adobe data contain transaction prices and quantities purchased. We estimate that online inflation was about 1 percentage point lower than in the CPI for the same categories from 2014--2017. In addition, the rising variety of products sold online, implies roughly 2 percentage points lower inflation than in a matched model/CPI-style index.