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Disguising Inflation

Most of my grocery shopping is done at an Albertson's that is a five minute walk from my RV park. They made quite a fuss out of rearranging the store recently, moving things from one aisle to the next. It wasn't a remodeling or an improvement; just a reshuffling.

Over the years I've memorized the prices pretty well. The store actually has great loss-leader sales, which are the only things I buy. It has always surprised me that a security guard doesn't block my entrance into the store. During all the commotion of the great reshuffling I noticed that some of the prices had gone up 25%. Or had I noticed them? Maybe my memory was playing tricks on me. Say, wait a minute, I still have a good memory. Something else was going on, and it smelled fishy.

The last few days the news media has actually done a little honest-to-goodness investigative reporting about repackaging at the grocery store. For example the food company can reduce the size of the product from 16 ounces to 14, put a dimple in the bottom of the jar, and keep the overall physical size and price the same as before. This is the first time in a long time that I felt respect for the news media. Now if only they'd stop swallowing every lie from the government about inflation, the "Recovery", global warming, progress in Afghanistan, etc.

But back to my Albertson's store: isn't reshuffling the food from one aisle to another just a scheme to knock the consumer out of the routine that their brain uses to memorize food prices? Very clever of somebody at Albertson's headquarters. Come to think of it, my local Walmart did a major reshuffling recently. I wonder how much of this is going on all over retail America. Maybe some of the guys at the corporate headquarters should go to work at the Federal Reserve or at the Commerce department.

People who have iPhones love to brag about their "apps", which by and large are just pretty toys that help the consumer squander money. How about an app that actually saves money? Is there an app that helps someone keep track of grocery store prices so that the consumer knows how bad inflation is getting?


Unknown said…
GasBuddy is a great iPhone app that I used constantly before switching over to my current Verizon phone. And man, do I miss it. It shows the price of gas at various stations in your vicinity, and I found it easily saved me at least $5 at each fill up.
Glenn, GasBuddy sounds like it would do the consumer some good, assuming that it includes ALL gas stations and not just the higher-priced ones. (Think of all the websites that help you shop for this or that. I never trust them.)

I wonder how they manage to keep the prices up-to-date. I would renounce my anti-smartphone prejudices if there was an app like GasBuddy that worked at the grocery store.
Anonymous said…
There are apps that use barcodes to compare prices at nearby stores. I believe that they might work for big ticket items, but whether it would work for groceries is another matter. I have a barcode app (free) for my android phone, and after getting over the novelty haven't found it useful. Any app that would allow you to easily harvest prices as you roam the aisles would work nicely for someone like me who has a poor memory, but I'm not aware of one.

Tom in Orlando

Oh, and as to GasBuddy, prices are supplied by the users, not by the gas stations. In addition to the price, you see information about when the price was updated. When travelling, I always check how old the price update is, and discount cheaper prices that aren't as current as higher prices for nearby stations, as experience has shown that the old cheap price was what I could have paid had I gassed up yesterday.
Tom, thanks for the information about how GasBuddy actually works. It surprises me that volunteers are willing to make the effort to phone in price updates.
Anonymous said…
Boonie, it works like this: as I stand there pumping gas, I pull out my smart phone and submit the price I am paying to gas buddy, and information I submit gets posted on the website. It's really easy. In my area, I have noticed that a lot of the prices are posted by the same person. I am guessing that this is someone who drives around as part of his/her job, like a UPS or FedEx delivery driver.

Tom on Orlando
Anonymous said…
Before the recession a can of 22 oz Campbell soup was .99 then it went up to $1.59 now , soon it will be $1.99