Substitution Effect

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DEFINITION of 'Substitution Effect'

The idea that as prices rise (or incomes decrease) consumers will replace more expensive items with less costly alternatives. Conversely, as the wealth of individuals increases, the opposite tends to be true, as lower-priced or inferior commodities are eschewed for more expensive, higher-quality goods and services - this is known as the income effect.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Substitution Effect'

Although beneficial to some (i.e. discount retailers), in general, the substitution effect is very negative in nature, as it limits choice. This is true not only for products, but also for services. Examples of the substitution effect in action can sometimes be observed over the winter holiday season, where, in lean economic times, discount retailers often hold up well.

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