The P.A.

A weekly address from Patrick Adams,
President of St. Louis Community Credit Union

Your Dollar is Disappearing at the Grocery Store

On August 12th, 2013, posted in: Uncategorized by

I’ve mentioned before that the dollar isn’t going as far as it once did. We’ve discussed real wages not keeping pace with inflation. You have witnessed “headline inflation” at the gas pump, and in the aisles of your favorite grocery store. More and more people have remarked to me in recent times, how little they carry out of the grocery store for a $100. What we have here is reality of the old adage: “the harder I work, the behinder I get.”

Why is a trip to the grocery store so frustrating? Some items may not appear to have increased in price. A favorite of mine is Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice. The price is about the same as a few years ago, but the package has shrunk. Tricky, huh? It was a 64-ounce container—now it’s 59 ounces. They got me when I wasn’t looking. No wonder my bag is lighter.

Who doesn’t love a Snickers bar? Peanuts and caramel along with chocolaty goodness (just thinking about it makes my mouth water). You can buy the regular size or a king size—either way you’re packing on the pounds. Still, a great value at the current price, but they too pulled a Houdini on us. That regular sized bar was a whopping 2.07 ounces in the past—now your afternoon indulgence to overcome the 2 p.m. duldrums is only 1.86 ounces.

See, manufacturers continue to get price increases from their raw-material providers, and they are sensitive to passing on those costs to the consumer. I get it and appreciate their attention to staying out of my pocket with a “visible” price increase. But, these sneaky moves of keeping the price the same and shrinking the package size serves the exact same purpose—it’s only “invisible” to the naked eye. If you’re not a “cost per unit” reader, you’re dollar is shrinking very quietly. Like a rabbit in the lettuce garden—you wake up one day and it’s gone.

Your toilet paper costs have been going up for years by the method of shrinking the package. That’s right I said it—your toilet paper costs per sheet is more expensive than ever. Think about that tidbit of information the next time you’re sitting around doing nothing!

Toilet paper rolls continue to get fluffier and bigger in size. Your favorite local wholesale club—Sam’s or Costco have enough toilet paper in stock to wipe an entire country off the map. Brand after brand after brand are displayed for your inspection. Be advised that they have all been cutting the number of sheets and replacing them with fluff. Up to 14 sheets per roll are being eliminated, but the price is the same. When do current TP costs exceed past TP costs? When 14 sheets are missing. This toilet paper “trickeration” must stop.

The moral of the blog is be a good consumer. Know what you’re paying for. If fluffy matters, pay for it. If sheet-count is important, you’ve got some comparison work to do. If you’re so loyal to Snickers that shrinking your enjoyment is OK at the same price, have a party. Otherwise, you may want to shop around.

The same holds true for financial services. Shop around. A deal may look great. It could be fluffy and soft, but is it right for you. Your hard earned money is just that—hard earned. Don’t throw it down the commode. Be smart.

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