When will “Shrinkflation” end?

Experts look ahead to 2023 prices, as consumers wait for relief

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -We’ve seen it in everything from Halloween Candy to Thanksgiving Turkey. Now, Shrinkflation is here for the holidays.

“It’s basically when a manufacturer decides to raise the price in a sneaky way by making the product a little smaller,” said Edgar Dworsky, also known as “Mr. Consumer.” Dworsky has been taking companies to task for decades, on his websites and as an assistant attorney general. “Shrinkflation has been going on for decades and decades. I used to call it downsizing,” Dworsky said.

We’re paying more - for less. And it’s not new.

“Right now, it’s the perfect scam. If you just blindly grab that box of cereal and you don’t notice the net count, you could get snookered,” said Dworsky.

So while you’re filling your Christmas table, your wallet’s getting emptier.

Arizona State professor of Supply Chain Management Hitendra Chaturvedi also points out, ten percent more waste is created by having to replenish more often.

“But, If we make a great big noise about it, I promise you things will change,” Chaturvedi said.

Consumers do have power in numbers. But for holiday bargain shoppers - time is running out.

“Some of the items are going to get huge amounts of discounts and some are not going to get discounts and we are seeing this play out this holiday season,” Chaturvedi said.

He adds, that’s because, after the supply chain backup, stores have a surplus of some gifts - but not others. Items from toys to tech may seem discounted, but when you account for inflation, you could actually be paying more. Retail sales are *down this holiday season, which could increase the push to lower prices - but could also prompt chains to lay off workers. Though many reported a higher profit margin this year, they say inflation and supply issues left them with no choice but to shrink items or grow their prices.

Analytics Company DataWeave noted we paid an average of 18% more for furniture and appliances than last year around Black Friday. Toys, two percent more.

So, is shrinkflation here to stay? Will Gatorade bottles that shrunk four ounces go back to 32 ounces? Or Corn Flakes family size gain back that 21%?

Dworsky says he doesn’t expect products to get bigger again, until companies bring back the old size, as something else.

“They’ll just give it a fancy name like ‘party size’ and charge you a lot more,” Dworsky said.

The good news: both experts believe prices will level out, if not fall, in the new year.

“I am very optimistic that the slowing down of demand will make companies change their behavior,” Chaturvedi said.

In the meantime, Dworsky recommends being aware: reading labels and checking the price per ounce on the grocery shelf. Apps such as Shopwell and Checkout51 can help you compare. Store brands are less likely to change size or price, so they could be your best bet to save on Christmas dinner. Better yet, shop local when you can. And know, you’re not alone in feeling the pinch.

Brooke Wagner

Brooke Wagner

Brooke Wagner fell in love with Tucson as a kid, visiting the city with her family for years. Her favorite spots include the Airplane Boneyard, Tohono Chul, Romero Pools, and the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures.