It seems to me that the variation of prices for similar or identical products has grown over the last decade. A few examples:
- On major air routes, price differences between low-cost and traditional carriers are extreme.
- Retail sales appear more frequent and significant than ever.
- At a grocery store, on any given day, it seems like some 30% of products are discounted. And I have received up to seven non-negligible coupons (for future use) even when making negligible purchases (under $5).
- "Deal sites" like Groupon (and a thousand others) have become prevalent.
- Single consumer electronics items are released as many different versions (with many different prices) with only slightly differing specifications.
All in all, it just seems like companies are getting more sophisticated (and more aggressive) about extracting as much of each consumer's willingness-to-pay as possible. This begs the question:
Can you think of any data that could be used to quantify the increase of price discrimination across time?
Note on edit: I originally asked about welfare considerations also, but found a fantastic answer to that question here.