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What is ‘Shrinkflation’ and why are UK shoppers worried about it?

John Fitzsimons
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John Fitzsimons

Shoppers are increasingly concerned about ‘shrinkflation’, and the likelihood of getting less for their money, new research has found.

The study from Barclays has found that around two-thirds of shoppers have noticed certain products being sold in smaller packages or portion sizes, though the price has not fallen (i.e. ‘shrinkflation’). In fact, they sometimes cost more than they did.

Around 83% said they were worried about the impact of this trend on their finances.

Chocolate and crisps were pinpointed as the products most commonly subject to shrinkflation, by 50% and 40% respectively.

Other products picked out include biscuits (39%) and snack bars (35%).

Shoppers are adapting their habits because of shrinkflation; the study found one in five have moved away from products which have been downsized, instead moving to buying products in bulk.

Food price concerns

The price of food is a big concern for many, according to the study, with 88% admitting to being worried.

More than six in 10 (63%) said they were looking for ways to reduce the amount spent on their weekly shop, with 41% opting to use vouchers or loyalty points and a quarter (27%) turning to frozen food.

One in four said they have switched to cheaper supermarkets because of the effects of food price inflation.

According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), food price inflation in the 12 months to April stands at 19.1%, down marginally from the 19.2% registered in March. 

That is the second highest level seen in more than 45 years.

Meanwhile, Barclays reported that spending on groceries was up by 8.9% year on year. 

Cutting non-essential spending

The Barclays research also identified that shoppers are opting to cut discretionary spending, on products and services that are not entirely essential.

Spending on non-essential items increase 3% over the month, down from the 4.6% increase in April, with half of shoppers saying they had cut their discretionary spending in order to deal with rising household bills. 

For example, spending on clothes dropped by 5.1%, its largest decline in over two years, while department store spending increased by only 1.9%, its smallest increase since last November.

Esme Harwood, director at Barclays, said that shoppers are paying close attention to their everyday spending, and are increasingly concerned around shrinkflation.

She continued: “Many are having to forgo discretionary purchases to offset rising food prices, with clothing and restaurants most impacted.

“However, the growth witnessed at pubs, airlines and entertainment venues shows that Brits are still finding room in the budget to enjoy nights out and holidays.”