Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.
Short sizing = the practice of shrinking packages or contents while keeping the price the same.
Shrinkflation = smaller but just as expensive. A sneaky way of raising prices before the buyer is aware of the rise.
Short-sizing involves changing the package size of items but keeping the same price. The outward appearance of the container may remain the same or be just slightly different. It might be a fractionally simmer box or smaller count or a couple of ounces displaced by a dimple in the bottom of a jar.
It’s fiendishly difficult to compare prices properly nowadays because repeated “special offers” mean the prices change frequently. Ping-pong prices going up and down almost daily are meant to confuse the shopper so the manufacturer or processor can reduce the size but keep the same price without the customer ever realizing. Most people make purchases using their eyes and the price instead of checking the per unit cost, which is why the producers get away with this.
I’ve written several posts about some of the short sizing tricks I’ve noticed. I have a category called “short sizing tricks” that at the moment has 7 posts and this one will be eight. On my main blog I wrote several too but they are scattered without a category. Years before I started blogging I noticed these tricks by manufacturers. I think the most cunning and sneakiest I’ve ever seen was the “stretching” of meat by small cuts on the underneath side so it could be stretched out larger within the package. It appeared to be more than was actually there.
The second clue of short sizing or shrinkflation is when something just doesn’t last as long as it used to last. Or is not quite enough for a recipe when it was always plenty before. The harsh reality is that big manufacturers are meant to manipulate you, not to educate you. The more confused you are and the longer they can keep you confused the greater their profits.
If you are still shopping by price alone you are doing it all wrong. You should be looking at the “unit” price for a comparison before buying. There is a reason why the price has a large font while the unit price is teeny tiny. They simply don’t want you to read it or use it even though the unit price is required by law to be there. The law doesn’t state that the unit price must be large enough to read.
I’ve also notice lately that shelf tags are completely missing from many items and the price check scanners are disappearing from the stores too. If the shelf tag is missing I either won’t buy it or will ask the cashier to check the price before I decide. I don’t care how many items have to be returned to the shelves.
Ninety nine cents seems to be a magic number for manufacturers and producers. People don’t usually think in terms of the ninety nine cents being only one penny away from a dollar. People view prices by looking at the left side of the decimal point and mentally ignoring the right side. My SIL is that way. When we are together and I tell her an item costs $5 she will look at the tag and say no its $4…..99. I don’t argue or quibble over a penny. But this is how many people view pricing and why there are so many fractional prices around. Heck, even gas prices have the fractional point nine instead of the next penny. Again, that is a strategy to confuse you into spending more of your money for a product.
The reason I decided to post something that just about everyone is now aware is happening is because there are still some people who are shopping the same way that they always have. With the same shopping list and at the same stores. Its now time to stop being controlled by habitual decision making. Start looking at the unit prices to compare. I’ve trained myself to mentally round up a price to the next higher dollar when I look at a fractional price. I’m using the unit price for comparison. I’m hoping others will do the same.