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Shrinkflation: What is It and How Do I Handle It?

Shrinkflation: What is It and How Do I Handle It?

Shrinkflation is a process in inflation where the price level per unit of weight or volume generally increases. When this happens, the weight/size of the product is reduced, but the price tag appears the same as before. Since consumers are more likely to notice a small price change over a small quantity change, producers have an advantage over maintaining the demand of their products with shrinkflation.

This does not always affect typical inflation measures, i.e., the consumer price index or Retail Price Index. Additionally, this practice is nothing new, as many manufacturers have been sneakily shrinking the size of their products for years, and it even traces back to the early 1900's, according to Edward Dworsky, a consumer advocate in Boston and the founder of ConsumerWorld.org. This form of inflation is thus very stealthy and nothing new to today’s practices.

As stressful as it is to navigate these times of record inflation in over four decades, it would be best to move from pointing fingers to making the most of our dollars with the products we must buy. Here are some ways to work around shrinkflation:

  • Pay attention to package sizing! You won’t know if you are getting a deal for your dollar if you do not notice the contents getting smaller.
  • Avoid buying pre-packaged foods (they are most prone to shrinkflation).
  • Steer from name brands and shop store brands, as they are generally much cheaper (and sometimes better).
  • Stock up on products when there is a sale for them.
  • Shop warehouses and buy certain items in bulk rather than at your local grocery store.
  • Research ways to extend the life of your produce/perishable items, so that you are not wasting it because it went bad too quickly.
  • Compare unit price of products, and decide on the best deal for you. This may require a little extra work, especially with food preparation, but it will save you money over time.
  • Avoid eating too much food or consuming more of a product than you need.

These suggestions are not intended to function successfully for all, but may be helpful for some, depending on circumstances and lifestyles. This is to encourage ways that people can reduce spending and help them get financial results they want, but other ideas separate from this post are possible.

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