Inflation is impacting nearly every area of American life, and many consumers are concerned about exactly how much more they must pay for everyday items. As prices rise for grocery items, a phenomenon known as “shrinkflation” continues to grow.
With shrinkflation, consumers are charged the same amount — or more — for a smaller amount of an item than they used to receive in the past.
A recent Morning Consult poll of consumers found that they have noticed shrinkflation in the following eight grocery categories. Knowing where to look for shrinkflation can help you avoid wasting money at the supermarket.
According to the Morning Consult poll, snacks are the biggest culprit when it comes to shrinkflation.
A majority — 55% — of those polled said they had noticed decreasing size or quantity of snacks offered for the same price, or more. So, make sure you look at how much you are actually getting the next time you grab a bag of chips, pretzels, or cookies.
Shoppers who said they were particularly “concerned about shrinkflation” were even more likely to notice the changes to the sizes of their normal snacking favorites, with 64% saying they had picked up on a change.
Polled shoppers also noticed shrinkflation’s effects when it comes to pantry items, such as boxes of pasta, cereal, canned fruits and vegetables, or soups.
About 40% said they picked up on shrinking quantities when it came to these pantry items. Among those who were particularly concerned about shrinkflation, 47% said they noticed such changes.
The survey also took shopper age into consideration and found that baby boomers — those born between 1946 and 1964 — were more likely to notice changes to pantry item prices than millennials (1981 to 1996) or Gen X (1965 to 1980).
A large percentage of consumers also noticed shrinkflation’s effects on frozen foods — such as pizzas, dinners, and vegetables — with 39% of those polled saying they had seen shrinking packages when browsing the frozen-food aisle.
Among those who identified as particularly concerned about shrinkflation, 45% said they had noticed changes in frozen foods.
According to the poll, 37% of shoppers said they have noticed increasing prices when buying meat. Among those who were particularly concerned about shrinkflation, 42% noticed changes. Millennials and members of Generation X were more likely to notice changes in this category than baby boomers.
Meat costs have experienced high inflation, with prices rising at levels not seen in four decades.
Bread and pastries
According to those polled, shrinkflation has hit the bakery aisles as well, with 31% of those polled saying they had noticed some shrinking quantities or growing prices when shopping for bread and pastries.
Among those particularly concerned about shrinkflation, 36% said they noticed changes when shopping for bakery items.
Stocking up on drinks is getting pricier as well, at least according to the 29% of polled shoppers who said they had noticed shrinkflation affecting the beverage aisle. And 34% of those concerned about shrinkflation noticed its effect in this category.
Due to all the price hikes and shrinking package sizes, just under half of those polled (48%) also said that they had opted to buy a different brand when they picked up on shrinkflation, and 49% said they had gone for a generic instead of a name brand.
Pro tip: One way to save more is to get a membership to a warehouse club and buy in bulk. For example, knowing just a few great Costco hacks can save you big money at the warehouse retailer.
Cheese, milk, and other dairy products were not immune from shrinkflation’s effects either, with 28% of those polled saying they’d noticed changes in the dairy aisle.
Among those who were concerned about shrinkflation to begin with, 31% said they saw changes when purchasing dairy products.
More than one-quarter of polled consumers also noticed changes with fruits, veggies, and other produce items, with 27% saying they’d seen some shrinkflation effects in this area. Among those concerned about shrinkflation, that number jumps to 30%.
When it comes to produce, millennials and members of Generation X were also more likely than baby boomers to pick up on changes in prices or quantity.
The Morning Consult poll also asked people how they responded to these shrinking products, and found that the approach to saving at the grocery store varied by generation as well as overall income.
For example, millennials and members of Generation X were more likely than baby boomers to buy in bulk in order to save, as were those in the middle- and high-income category compared to lower-income earners.
About one-fifth of those who noticed inflation (19%) said they had not taken any steps yet to offset the rising costs. However, that may change soon, especially for consumers struggling to move beyond living paycheck to paycheck.
If inflation continues, expect these consumers to turn to generic store brands or warehouse stores, like Costco, in the hunt to save more money.