President Joe Biden’s poll numbers have been plummeting, and the mishandling of the economy may be the primary reason. With inflation raging at a four-decade high, it’s understandable that only 33% of Americans are satisfied with the economy. If you’re having trouble making it from paycheck to paycheck these days, you’re not alone.
Families’ budgets have been stretched to the limit because of inflation. Even still, many products just don’t seem to last as long as they used to. Common items—including foodstuffs—appear to not only be getting more expensive, but smaller too.
Say hello to shrinkflation, the covert-ops version of inflation.
While the cause of inflation is not always obvious, people can clearly see prices rising. Inflation increases costs for businesses and those costs are passed on to customers, usually in the form of higher prices. Understandably, consumers become angry at this conspicuous method of covering higher costs. An alternative to selling the same thing at a higher price is to charge the same price while shrinking the size of products.
America has this shrinkflation phenomenon in spades. Everyday staples from cereal to toothpaste have been getting smaller over the last year. It may not be noticeable at first glance when toothpaste shrinks by just 0.3 ounces per tube, but that’s a reduction of 7%—which was also the inflation rate for 2021.
Major cereal brands have also been reducing the size of their boxes—while raising prices—so that consumers are paying 26% more for the same amount of product. Oatmeal is not much of an alternative, with packages shrinking 20%.
If you opt for yogurt instead, things are almost as bad, with one major brand reducing package sizes by 15%. Yet again, the price did not fall, only the amount of food in your grocery cart. In fact, it seems everything at the grocery store is falling prey to shrinkflation. Ice cream cartons contain 14% less, peanut butter cups are 6% smaller, and bags of chips weigh 5% less.
Things are just as bad if you intend to order in—the pizza chain Domino’s has reduced the number of wings in its carryout promotion by 20% while maintaining the same price.
And it’s more than food; other items consumers use every day are getting smaller, too. Major brands of paper towels and toilet paper have about 11% fewer sheets. Liquid body soap is about 24% smaller and packages of food storage bags have shrunk 7%. Trash bags are another casualty, with the number of bags decreasing 11% per box.
Shrinkflation is not the disease, it’s a symptom. It’s just one way that inflation—caused by the Federal Reserve—is working its way through the economy and ravaging Americans’ budgets. The cure is simple: stop the money creation at the Federal Reserve.
But the White House continues to place the blame on “greedy” corporations, much like it did when meat prices soared. Yet, no one in the administration can explain why businesses suddenly became so avaricious. In reality, businesses and consumers alike are trying to survive this inflationary wave.
So, you’re not going crazy; things really are getting smaller, and the packages of things you use every day do not last like they used to. The changes are just being hidden in the fine print, in the hopes that you will not notice.
Shrinkflation makes the hidden tax of inflation even more opaque. It leaves families scratching their heads at the end of every month, wondering why grocery and other bills are rising even faster than the shocking price increases on their receipts. Shrinkflation is the simple answer to the puzzle of why people are running out of things faster while paying more for them.
But there is no sense crying over shrinkflation—you will just go through your smaller box of tissues even faster.