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Paying more for less has become the norm with inflation hovering at a 40-year high. But elevated prices aren’t the only way consumers are being squeezed. Shrinkflation, a practice in which manufacturers lower the product count or size but usually not the price, is growing, with consumers shelling out more for less across several categories.
This growing phenomenon is not lost on older adults who are forced to scale back. Among baby boomers surveyed by Morning Consult, 62 percent were aware of shrinkflation. A majority were very or somewhat worried about the impact it’s having on their budgets. That makes sense, based on Morning Consult’s research. Consumers polled said they saw shrinkflation in many product areas, including:
- Pantry items
- Frozen foods
- Bread and pastries
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“In consumers’ minds, snacks are the biggest shrinkflation culprit: More than half of U.S. adults said they’ve noticed snacks decreasing in size or quantity while prices have either remained steady or gone up,” wrote Emily Moquin, a food and beverage analyst at Morning Consult, in the research report.
Consumers aren’t taking all this shrinkflation lying down. Nor should you. Here are five ways to fight back.
1. Pay attention to the net weight and count
Avoidance is the best way to combat shrinkflation, and that starts with knowing how to spot it. Pay attention to the net weight or net count of the product you’re purchasing. It may be ounces for apple juice or number of sheets for toilet paper. Looking for the unit price on store shelves will help you spot shrinkage. “Ignore the size name and look at the size number, then compare that with what you have at home and bought last time,” says Edgar Dworsky, founder of Consumer World, and a consumer advocate who has tracked shrinkflation for over 30 years.
2. Forget loyalty — best deal wins
Older consumers may be loyal to a certain brand, but in times of high inflation, loyalty may not have its rewards. To avoid shrinkflation, experts say consumers should go with the cheapest option. That’s particularly true if a competing brand is on sale. You may even fall in love with the cheaper alternative!