life | SMART
ics that really affect people? (I like to call these concepts “streetnomics” – you know, the kind of economics you learn in the real world on the street, as opposed to the abstract stuff we are taught in university.) This month, I’d like to share a concept with you that affects us all, espe- cially during the holiday season. Allow me to introduce one of my favourite streetnomic concepts: “shrinkflation.” I know what you’re thinking…
Be The Change
so stop it. It’s the holiday season, so get your mind out of the gut- ter! I am not talking about what happened to George in that one Seinfeld episode when he went into a swimming pool and came out feeling like a smaller man.
No. I am talking about a concept in that needs to be better understood as it can lead to more informed consumers and most importantly, more money in your pocket. Shrinkflation is the process of tangible consumer goods
shrinking in size, weight or quantity, while their prices re- main the same. Translated into streetnomics, that means you pay the same price, but receive less of the good. You’ve likely seen this phenomena before throughout
your life, but have never really had a name for it (corporate ‘Merica prefers to keep it that way if you ask me). Shrink- flation is bad if you’re a buyer, but good for the seller. And since most of us are buyers when it comes to food, shelter and clothing, believe me when I tell you – shrinkflation is not a good thing. Now that you know about it, you’ll be able to see it every-
where around you. Te supermarket offers the most read- ily available examples of shrinkflation. From 1.89 litres of 100% pure Florida orange juice (remember when they were 2 litres?) to less skittles, smarties and M&M’s per bag, Shrinkflation is all around of us. It seems like with every trip to the grocery store, shrinkflation is on the constant rise – smaller loaves of bread, less grains of rice per pack- age, and less milk per jug means average consumers are paying the same price, but getting less for it. Another popular place to see shrinkflation work its
magic is at restaurant chains. From less McDonald french fries despite the same cost, to less pickles per A&W teen burger, shrinkflation is the concept responsible for you getting less for the same amount of money. Tis whole idea has big implications for consumers, and even affects how we measure economic growth. Shrinkflation is bad. It’s very very bad. It’s a very very
very bad man, Jerry. Here’s why. Shrinkflation is absent from mainstream economic
key indicators because it does not count as inflation. When economists measure the effects of inflation on consumers, they do so by measuring the cost of the same basket of goods over a period of time. Better known as the consumer price index, this measure helps determine how much inflation is eating away at the value of the money we have earned. Because shrinkflation doesn’t actually increase the cost of a good (it only lowers the amount), it is skipped as a measure of eroding purchasing power. With wages and incomes having stagnated for decades
when adjusted for inflation, average consumers are now seeing their purchasing power erode even further, but without proper quantification. Tis means that middle class consumers – the backbone of all modern econo-
Keep your eyes open - you never know when shrinkflation may hit. Photo by András Fehér.
mies – are being further pressured to do more with less income. Shrinkflation is also a great barometer of our times.
Just like GDP as a mainstream economic indicator fails to capture positive social value and negative externalities, shrinkflation fails to capture the reduction in purchas- ing power for the average consumer. Policy-wise, until this term is quantified and measured economically, the average consumer will suffer. So, what is the average person to do? Especially with
the consumerism of the holidays upon us? Try to take a stand by using your dollars more wisely. See a shrinkflated good? Look for a competing equivalent
that is not shrinkflated. Often time, no name branded products offer the same (if not more) quantity, and at a lower price. Elect to purchase those products and send a message to those companies profiting off of you and I from Shrinkflation. Send a message to those corporate ‘Merican overlords and buy goods from those who do not engage in this predatory economic tactic. Last, tell all your family and friends of this idea, so they too can become savvier consumers. Michael Silicz helps people separate the signal from the
noise. He has experience in finance, law and public policy. If you have any column ideas or would like to see Michael write about a specific topic, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
ens of people, almost as if on auto-pilot. Everyone is auditioning with their best photo in hopes of being right- swiped—the ul- timate approval of one’s physi- cal attractive- ness. You can’t
What's the Story, Dorie?
seriously believe that your 100-word profile highlighting your hobbies and favorite foods is what made your pur- suer hit the checkmark button, no; it was most likely the cleavage pic that peaked their interest most. How do I know this? Because I’ve had the honor of listening to the comments of those who have graciously selected you as a potential person who they would like to stick their…. You get the picture.
It's going down, I'm yelling Tinder! W
hat is it about Tinder? I’ve asked myself that while watch- ing friends swipe through doz-
Naturally I needed to try it out for
myself, just not in Winnipeg. So, this past summer, while sitting at a bar in Kelowna with my friend, an experi- enced Tinder and Grinder user, I got the app I said I’d never get. I sipped my dou- ble gin and tonic as I carefully selected a few photos that didn’t send across the “Netf lix and chill” message, and we aggressively swiped through dozens of dudes and bickered over what way we were swiping them. While browsing through the library of Kelowna-faced- boys, I realized how popular shirtless photos were—these are the ones we bickered about. Tough I can appreciate the hard work you put into that broccoli eating, caramel tanned, chiselled-ab body of yours, my guess is that if you’re leading with your looks, it’s probably because your personality sucks. Left swipe. I woke up to messages from a few guys,
Dealing with shrinkflation I
Watch out for it this holiday season!
t’s hard to believe, but the holiday season is already upon us all. When better than “the most wonderful time of the year” is there to talk about the econom-
and I spent a lot of my day responding to them, which was annoying yet addict- ing. I came to see why people like Tinder so much: the attention is overwhelming. It was weird to have so many strangers interested in me, and yet I knew why most of them were. I had plastered my face on an app responsible for many of the one-night stands that have oc- curred, and yet I wondered if there was a chance I could simply just get to know someone, who had a genuine interest in getting to know me. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who has asked you what you do for a living more than twice, and you start to wonder if they’re listening to you at all? Te upside of Tinder is that if you’ve asked someone something, and forget the answer, you can just scroll up in the conversation and find the information you’re looking for. Te bad part, it’s twice as insulting when someone has that information at
their finger tips yet continue to re-ask the same questions. I had one guy ask me three times what I was studying in school, which is when I realized I was probably one of five girls he was messag- ing at that moment. Un-match. I really had no business being on
Tinder with such high expectations; however I continued my efforts because as shallow as it was, it was really enter- taining. When I arrived at the airport for my return flight to Winnipeg, I deleted my profile, with a hint of sadness, but with much relief that my face couldn’t be judged anymore. I can’t bash the app, for some couples have formed from it, and others have experienced great nights of mutual, emotionless fun. I applaud those who are brave enough to endure the scrutiny of people’s visual stand- ards, I think though, for me, I’ll rely on meeting people the old fashioned way: off the internet.
Smart Biz 15
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