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Products shrinking and getting more expensive: How to save

Published 22 May 2016 by

When you’re trying to shop on a tight budget, you can feel like your money just doesn’t stretch as far as it once did. But you’re not just imagining this – some of the most popular products really are getting smaller, according to new research by Which?.

What’s even worse, these smaller products aren’t getting cheaper, like you might expect. In some situations, they actually cost more. Let’s take a look at which products aren’t what they used to be and what you should buy instead to save money.

What’s smaller now?

The research found that a standard Andrex four-pack of toilet rolls used to have 240 sheets – it’s now got just 221 sheets. The average price has stayed at £2, meaning you could now get less for your money.

A tube of Sensodyne Daily Care toothpaste was 100ml and it’s now 75ml. Morrisons had this at £4 and it’s now selling it for £3.49. Even though that’s cheaper, it’s actually more expensive per 100ml so you’d be worse off.

One of the worst deals is a packet of McVitie’s Dark Chocolate Digestives. That used to be 332g and it’s now just 300g. In Tesco, it was on sale for £1.59 before the shrink and it’s now 10p more expensive at £1.69. It’s still £1 in Asda so at first glance, you wouldn’t realise you were losing out and actually getting less for the same price.

What to buy instead

With products getting smaller but not getting any cheaper, the best way to save is to check the ‘unit cost’ of what you’re buying. You can find this under the price on shelves – so a £2 box of cereal at 750g would cost 26.7p per 100g.

This is helpful when you’re trying to work out the real cost for comparison between products. When you look at the unit costs of two items, you might find out that a bigger product is actually better value.

For example, you might see a 500g box of fish fingers for £2 and a 250g box for £1.50. Even though the 500g box is more expensive, its unit price is cheaper – 40p per 100g compared to 60p per 100g for the smaller box.

That means that it can often be better to buy and bulk and save money over the long-term. Don’t assume this will always be the case – you should check the unit price on the shelf to see which gives you the most for your money.

The only time you shouldn’t buy in bulk is if you’re buying something that will go off before you use it all. For example, if you’re buying fresh fruit or vegetables and you think half the packet will go to waste, buy the size you need instead. After all, you won’t be saving any money if you have to throw tons of food away.