You look intently at that carton of ice cream in the store freezer, and a nagging thought arises, “Has this thing shrunk lately?” “
Chances are, your eyes aren’t fooling you. The “shrinkage” – which occurs when the size of a product decreases, but the price remains the same – is on the rise, according to consumer advocates.
This stealthy way of raising prices on customers is nothing new. Steve Reed, economist at the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, tells ABC News that the BLS tries to account for shrinkage when it accumulates data for its Consumer Price Index. The CPI is a measure of what consumers pay for goods and services and, as such, is also considered an indicator of inflation.
Consumer advocates have long decried shrinkage. Edgar Dworsky, a consumer defense attorney and former Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General, told ABC News:
“Basically, if a manufacturer is considering raising prices, there are a couple of ways you can do it. The typical way is, well, to increase the price of the item. The most underhanded way is to keep the product packaging roughly the same, but put less in the container.
By using shrinkage instead of raising prices, companies avoid giving the consumer a ‘sticker shock’ even though they ‘actually make the consumer pay the same price but get less for their money. money, ”Dworsky says.
So how do you avoid shrinkage? Perhaps the best way is to be more aware of trying to think of prices by weight, says Dworsky.
He suggests memorizing the net weight of the items you buy consistently. This way, you will be more likely to recognize a change in the item’s weight when it occurs.
If you spot an example of shrinkage, look to competing brands to see what they are offering. Or, consider store brands, which “tend to be the last to cut the unit price,” Dworsky told ABC News.
It can also be helpful to look at the product’s family packaging, as these products often tell you the cost per ounce or, in the case of products like paper towels, per 100 sheets, Dworsky explains. This can make comparisons easier.
For recent real-life examples of shrinkage, see “5 Product Packages That Have Been Shrunken Or Enlarged”.
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