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Miscroscopic Shopping: Groceries are Getting Smaller

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Take a close look at the shelves next time you're in the aisles of your local grocery store. Notice anything different? Like maybe there's a bit more room on either side of the rows of items? Pick something up and feel the bottom--as the LA Times suggests, grab a jar of Skippy brand peanut butter--now do you notice the "dimple" at the bottom?

Food product manufacturers, like the makers of Skippy, are feeling the budget crunch, too, and that doesn't translate to equal profitability on the same jar of crunchy peanut butter you bought a few months ago. Everywhere in the supermarket you'll see that packaging is a fraction smaller, concealing items trimmed by half-ounces, or a narrower roll of toilet paper. The changes were deemed necessary by the manufacturers because of the economy, but because the changes aren't overt, most shoppers haven't noticed because the prices haven't necessarily changed.

Consumers who do notice, however, are starting to feel duped, and balk at spending the same $6.99 for 10% less of their favorite ice cream. Most, however, continue to shop as guided by personal preference and brand loyalty. It is hard to deny that pricing for goods like groceries has been steadily on the rise, no matter what the size of product, due to hikes in ingredient costs and fuel prices. Even the 99 Cent store has had to change their business model to allow them to sell some items 9 and 9/10 cents higher than their name indicates. So if you're thinking your (disposable) bags are lighter, and your wallet lighter still, when you leave your local supermarket--even if it's one of the healthiest in the country--you'd be right on the money.

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Photo by Fire Monkey Fish via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr