“Shrinkflation”: Paying More For Less

You might be noticing that your toilet paper is being depleted faster than normal, but it’s got nothing to do with how often you’re using it. It’s because toilet paper rolls are shrinking. Charmin, Angel Soft, and several other brands have all reduced the number of individual sheets on each toilet paper roll. The packages still contain the same total number of rolls, but each roll is slimmer. Charmin’s mega roll shrank from 264 sheets to 244 sheets, a 7.5% reduction, while Angel Soft’s mega roll plummeted from 425 to 320 sheets, a 25% reduction. More importantly, while there are fewer sheets per roll, the price per roll is exactly the same. Welcome to the world of shrinkflation. Inflation rates are high around the world right now, which means manufacturers are facing higher prices for raw materials, ingredients, packaging, shipping and more. To continue to make a profit, companies have two options: Raise the price of their products or charge the same price for less of the product. Brands know that consumers are price sensitive, but they’re fairly confident that consumers won’t notice if their product is a little thinner. Toilet paper isn’t the only product that’s getting slimmer. Arm & Hammer laundry detergent went from 75 ounces to 67.5 ounces, while still promising 50 loads of laundry. Quaker Instant Oatmeal quietly reduced its boxes from 10 packets of oatmeal to just eight, a 20% reduction for the same price. If this is starting to give you a headache, you should know that Aleve is now selling 90 pills per bottle instead of 100. Because brands are doing everything in their power to divert consumer attention away from a product's actual net weight or sheet count, old and new packages look almost identical, but they employ marketing terms like "family size" and "mega size" that don't have any real meaning. The only good news is that, as a general rule, store brands are the last ones to downsize, so it might be a good time to switch. Finally, beware of the words “new and improved” on a package label. That just means that the only thing new is the packaging, and there's likely less product in the package.