What is shrinkflation and how does it affect you at the grocery store?

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Have you noticed that prices are staying the same for many of your favorite products, but the weight or quantity of the product is decreasing? It’s called shrinkflation.

It’s similar to inflation, where you pay more for everything you buy. Shrinkflation means you’re getting less product for your money.

Consumer advocates say with costs soaring, you may notice it more when you go to your nearest grocery store.

Memphian Katie Reardon is one of those shoppers.

We caught up with her during her weekly visit to the grocery store. Although she said she didn’t know the term shrinkflation, she said she had definitely experienced it.

“As a matter of fact, in the Little Debbies, the little cupcakes are smaller than they used to be, and even the candies that you buy in the six-packs or 12 packs, the products are much smaller,” Reardon said.

Edgar Dworsky is someone who is aware of the issue. Dworsky runs the website “Consumer World” and spoke with our sister station in Boston about shrinkflation.

Dworsky said shoppers need to pay more attention to how much they are getting each time they buy their favorite products.

“Things are shrinking. You get less of this, less of that for what you used to pay one year ago, maybe two years ago,” said Dworsky.

Dworsky said shoppers are very good at being price-conscious but not so good at checking the net weight.

“We have to become net weight conscious,” said Dworsky. “Manufacturers know that consumers don’t check the net weight and the net count and because they know that, they can get away with it when they try to pull a fast one on shoppers.”

Dworsky went grocery shopping to show shoppers just how tricky shrinkflation can be to spot.

Dworsky’s first example was a super-mega pack of Charmin toilet paper for $10.49. The old package came with 396 sheets per roll. Now, the new package comes with 30 sheets fewer.

Keebler Chips Deluxe Cookies also shrank in size but not in price. The old packages were 11.3 ounces, but the new packages have dropped to 9.75 ounces.

It doesn’t end there. Dworsky said Gatorade bottles are noticeably different. The old bottles were 32 ounces, and the new bottles are 28 ounces.

“Downsizing, shrinkflation really is here forever. As long as prices go up, as long as manufacturers see high gas prices or high raw material costs, they’re going to find some way to pass on those costs to consumers,” said Dworsky.

Although you can’t change the prices or the sizes of the items, Dworsky said there are a few things you can do.

Compare Brands

First, if your favorite brand has been downsized, consider looking at its competitor. Dworsky said store brands tend to be the last to downsize.

Write a Letter

You can also write a letter to the company to complain. Although they may not change their tactics, they could send back some coupons.

Use Unit Pricing

Dworsky’s last piece of advice is to use unit pricing, which is the price per ounce or the price per count labeled on the shelf. That way, you can compare different brands and sizes for the best deal.