The Office for National Statistics recently confirmed what a lot of us shoppers suspected for a long time: as many as 2,529 products have shrunk in size over the past five years.
Yes, in spite of being sold for the same price, manufacturers have sneakily ensured you get less for your money in a phenomenon called 'shrinkflation'.
It's especially easy for them to do with food products because they won’t last from one week to the next so it's hard to keep track and compare to what you used to have, if they do it gradually.
Toblerones came into the news a while ago when people realised that the gaps between the chocolate triangles were getting wider and wider, meaning there was less chocolate per bar. It's not just chocolate though.
Which? found that 19 sheets from the standard Andrex four-pack toilet roll had gone down the... well... toilet.
There are, however, ways to get around this problem when you’re budgeting, if you’re careful.
Think about what you’re buying.
- One way that shrinkflation suckers us in is brand loyalty. We stick with the same products week by week because it's easier to shop that way. However, even if you started buying the product because you thought it was a good deal, it might not be so great anymore. Keep checking how much you’re getting for your money.
- Some price comparison sites allow you to check how much you are buying 'per unit', which means if you’re buying a pack of biscuits you can use the site function to find out the price of a single biscuit, so you know exactly what you’re getting. This is a big benefit of shopping online because you can compare across the board, and very few supermarkets have this information on their price tags. mySupermarket is great for this.
- Most supermarkets do give you the price by gram or kilogram on the shelf. You can also work it out yourself in your head or with the calculator function on your phone by dividing the price by the weight on the package.
- You could also learn to make your own food. This helps you get around shrinkflation because you know exactly how much you’re putting into it and how much it costs because you bought the ingredients to make it. Knowledge is power!
- We've been running CAP Life Skills courses across the UK to help people learn how to budget better in their day to day life. We look at cooking on a budget and making some really delicious meals that the whole family can enjoy. Another really popular session involves a taste test where we ask if members can spot the luxury, brand, own brand and value products, and guess the price. Often there is minimal difference but the price per 100g varies enormously. The course also goes through the techniques that shops use to get you to spend more. It's a science all its own! You can find your nearest CAP Life Skills course here.