Carnes: Shrinkflation perception deception
Right now Vail Mountain boasts 31 lifts and 195 trails on 5,317 skiable acres.
A single day lift ticket will remove $239 from your bank account (legally), which breaks down to a little less than a nickel per hundred acres of skiable terrain.
Not too shabby when you look at it that way, right?
When April begins in a few weeks, the total skiable acres will most certainly shrink as daytime temperatures rise and fewer storms with actual snowfall come our way (yes, it can, and usually does, rain in April).
Blue Sky Basin, China Bowl, Sun Up and Sun Down Bowl will inevitably have to close due to potential liabilities from rocks and mud preventing most from getting on their respective edges when attempting to turn.
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Admitting skiable acres will be cut in half is not too much of a stretch at that point, meaning almost a dime per hundred acres of terrain, which in some circles is considered “real money.”
In the industry this is what’s known as “skiflation,” yet not only affects our local ski mountains but products nationwide where it is popularly known as “shrinkflation.”
Yeah-yeah, I know, it’s not really a fair analogy to use our local overlords as an example since they have no actual control over the weather (depends on which science one follows however …) and need to squeeze every dime they can for the rest of the season in order to cover next season’s increased payroll costs due to the new and improved $20 minimum wage, but you get the idea.
Less bang for the same buck.
From toilet paper to laundry detergent to candy bars and even the number of chips in a bag of Doritos, manufacturers subtly reduce the size of a product while maintaining the same or similar price, and they do it all under the nose of the unsuspecting and gullible consumer (that’s us…), and it’s perfectly legal.
It used to be called “downsizing” and was more related to cutting back on employee numbers to lower payroll costs, but now it applies across the manufacturing board as a sort of “hidden inflation” tactic, and us dummy consumers are too wrapped up in our own little worlds to notice, much less care.
Sure, it’s sneaky and even a little bit slimy, but on the bright side the reduction in daily calories from a slightly smaller Snickers bar might help the chocolate lover shed a few pounds over time, and who can find fault with that?
When shopping this week to stock up on non-perishables and toilet paper in anticipation of WWIII or the Second Coming of COVID restrictions, head over to City Market (or Safeway if you’re one of those …) and check it out for yourself.
Two years of a worldwide pandemic created the supply issues that are mainly to blame for the worldwide inflation (well, that and the low-hanging fruit known as corporate greed and the aforementioned WWIII), but never forget that shrinkflation is just corporate sleight-of-hand and there’s not much we can really do about it.
But if that rented bedroom suddenly becomes smaller for the same price or, Allah forbid, that craft beer can abruptly shows to only hold 11 fluid ounces, then we’ll have justifiable reason to revolt, but until then just be on the lookout and be sure to thank the chocolate maker for your unexpected weight loss.
Richard Carnes, of Avon, writes weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com.