Today's Boomer Magazine Jan./Feb./March 2022 Vol.10 No.1

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BoomeR ConsumeR Watch: How Shrinkflation Hurts Us, From More Expensive Toilet Paper to Fewer Doritos in a Bag Companies are turning to an effective tactic to push rising inflation costs onto consumers with little notice: Shrinkflation. By Erin Arvedlund, The Philadelphia Inquirer Companies grappling with the highest inflation in 40 years face a quandary: How can they pass along rising costs without obvious price hikes that drive customers away? The answer is “shrinkflation.” While consumers are keenly focused on the price of goods, they are less aware of small changes to the size or volume of products. Shaving a few pretzels or cookies from familiar packaging or reducing the size of a drink container ever so slightly can save companies money. And consumers often don’t notice that they’re paying the same for less. “Shrinkflation is a way to disguise inflation, and we see it commonly with food and beverages, or disposables [products] like garbage bags, things with a lot of turnover,” said Chris Motola, a financial analyst at, a comparison site for small businesses shopping for financial services. “This is not a new thing.” But shrinkflation — a mash-up of the words shrink and inflation — is a tool most companies repeatedly use without penalty. A few eagle-eyed shoppers may home in on the slightest change to their favorite brands. But if a company labels its product clearly and accurately, shrinkflation is perfectly legal. “It’s not fraud,” Motola said. “But they count on consumers not to do the math.” Edgar Dworsky, editor of, a 14 Today’s BoomeR

consumer newsletter and advocacy group, can rattle off a list of products downsized by the shrinkflation treatment. Over roughly the last six months, Procter & Gamble’s Gain detergent has sold less liquid — 154 ounces, down from 165 ounces — but in the same bottle fetching the same price, Dworsky noted. “Over the past 60 years, we’ve seen Charmin toilet paper go from 650 single-ply sheets on a roll to the equivalent of 90% less,” to under 70 sheets a roll today, said Dworsky, a former assistant attorney general in Massachusetts and consumer advocate. P&G did not respond to requests for comment. Most recently, Charmin ultra soft “mega” rolls shrank from 264 double-ply sheets a roll to 244 sheets. And “super mega” rolls dropped from 396 sheets to 366 sheets. “It’s a backdoor price increase,” he said. “Some companies might be doing both. A big price increase is blunted because they reduce the product a little and raise the price a little.” Shrinkflation might sneak by shoppers, but the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, which releases inflation data, tracks some products by quantity and weight and will note a price increase if consumer pay the same for less, the Wall Street Journal reported. For example, Cottonelle toilet paper, made by KimberlyClark, also shrank mega rolls from 340 one-ply sheets to