This morning (Sunday) my son and I went shopping. Mrs Jarhead had a list of items for me to pick up and I had a few things I wanted to restock (olive oil and Gatorade), so my boy and I jumped in the truck and headed down to the local Shaws Supermarket.
As we walked through the canned goods isle I couldn’t help but notice that the cans were all a little smaller than they used to be while the prices were a little higher. Everywhere we looked it was the same: smaller packaging and either the same price or a little more.
It was more of a feeling than stopping to compare prices and figuring out exactly how much we’re getting screwed over these days. But there’s no question in my mind that inflation is here, whether or not it’s being reported. Yeah, yeah, they say “Inflation has only gone up 3% this year (or whatever) – excluding food and fuel.” Sure, I understand that they’re really trying to figure out what the money is doing by excluding food and fuel, but it strikes me as stupid every time I hear it because we -the people – are the ones who have to suffer through these shopping trips.
A few weeks ago Mrs Jarhead asked me to pick up a candy bar at the local movie store. We don’t eat a lot of candy bars, but I was happy to oblige her sweet tooth. I picked out a chocolate candy bar for her and it felt funny, so thinking it was defective I put it aside and grabbed the next one down. Same thing. I set that one aside and grabbed the next one and when it felt the same as the others realized that there was nothing wrong with the candy bar, it’s just that there was less candy in it now.
My favorite packaging story of all (forgive me if I’ve written about this before) comes from Walmart. Six months or a year ago I went into the store looking for a package of black socks. I forget what brand I was looking for, but found a package with six pairs of socks in it for the same price I’d seen a year or two before. I thought, “Huh, I was expecting to pay more because of inflation and the higher prices for cotton these days.”
Before throwing the socks in the cart I threw my eyes over the lettering outside the package and noticed that it said five pairs of socks, not six. I rubbed my eyes and looked a little close and still saw six pairs of socks in the plastic window. Then I realized what they had done. They took four pairs of socks and put them side by side, then took the fifth pair and split them up on either side to make it look like six pairs!
A less careful shopper wouldn’t have noticed until they got home. When I returned to the house I threw the package to Mrs. Jarhead and said, “How many pairs of socks do you see here?”
“Six,” she said glancing quickly at the package.
She looked closer and couldn’t believe it. How’s that for sneaky packaging eh?
There’s really no point to this post other than moral outrage at marketers thinking we’re too stupid not to notice the little gimmicks they think we’re falling for. It’s not that we’re blindly falling for their clever little tricks, it’s simply that we need the food and will pay whatever price we have to in order to feed our families. I’d rather they kept the size the same and just jacked the price up, so I’ll know exactly what I’ve got in my pantry instead of recalculating everything down by a half serving. What a pain.
And have you checked out the price of beef lately???? I knew that the price was going to go up because of a drought in the Midwest, but it’s still a shock to see a steak going for $6.77 that would have cost about $4 last summer. Holy Cow! (Pun intended.)
Do you have any observations or stories about higher prices? Shout ‘em out below.