Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Billion Prices Project

The goal of the MIT Billion Prices Project is to collect daily prices from retailers around the world. It is estimated that the project is downloading 40 million prices a day - hence, a billion a month. The project also collects item descriptions and information about whether the item is on sale or not, as well as information for “green”, “fair trade”, or any other “social conscious” indicator. Finally, if available, the project collects information about whether the prices are controlled by the government or not, and some information about the stocks (usually high, low, and out-of-stock).


Kevin Denny said...

A fascinating project. If they estimate inflation rates etc it will be interesting to see how they tally with the official rates. Perhaps the obvious concern is that some sectors are not likely to be covered. Do pubs publish their prices on-line for instance? Nonetheless this could be a great way for the Web to generate high frequency data that would be otherwise impossible to collect.

Martin Ryan said...

This should definitely be considered in terms of how the CPI is measured in Ireland.

The field-work for this takes place on the second Tuesday of each month. The target population is all retailers and suppliers of services in Ireland. There is no direct sampling frame; the town sample is based on Census of Population. Outlets are selected directly by pricers.

A total of over 50,000 price quotations are collected by pricers; a further 3,000 to 4,000 are collected on a monthly basis in special postal and telephone inquiries.