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Getting less for more has been an ongoing byproduct of the pandemic, with inflation still near a 40-year high. Prices for most consumer products are up, in some cases by double digits. Beyond paying more, consumers also have to deal with shrinkflation. That happens when manufacturers downsize the number or count of items in the package. It’s a way to pass on increased costs for ingredients and labor to consumers without raising the price.
“Shrinkflation has been with us since the 1950s and will never disappear. It is worse, certainly, during times of inflation when manufacturers are trying to find ways to pass on their increased costs to consumers,” says Edgar Dworsky, founder of Consumer World, and a consumer advocate who has tracked shrinkflation for over 30 years. “When inflation subsides there will be [less] downsizing, but it won’t go away.”
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Shrinkflation has touched almost every category of consumer goods, but some tend to be repeat offenders. From toilet paper to snacks, here are seven products getting hit hard by shrinkflation — and how you can save on them all.
1. Toilet paper
To offset rising production costs, some toilet paper manufacturers are lowering the sheet count in each roll rather than raising prices directly. Consumer World and its team of shrinkflation sleuths have spotted this common tactic with several brands this year.
Charmin is one example. It recently reduced its Mega roll to 242 sheets from 264 and cut the Super Mega roll to 363 sheets from 396. That’s 8.3 percent less product for the same price. Scotts has kept its paper count at 1,000 sheets since 2010, but the paper it uses has gotten thinner. It now has 20 percent less paper than it did in 2006, according to Consumer World.
2. Paper towels
Paper towels are another common consumer product susceptible to shrinkflation. Is a consumer really going to notice if the paper roll has 10 fewer sheets? Sparkle is a recent offender. Consumer World found it cut six sheets off each roll, reducing it to 110 from 116, or by about 5 percent.