Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...


Everything but tech support.

0744, 04 Oct 23

Bidenomics = Skimpflation

It’s fun that we all get to learn these new words in Biden’s economy.

Products on shelves are getting quantifiably smaller, yet you’re paying the same price: a practice known as ‘shrinkflation’. But in addition to shrinking products, businesses are also cutting back on the quality and availability of their services, while keeping prices steady. This is called ‘skimpflation’ – and although the changes are sometimes significant, they often fly under the radar.


“Skimpflation is defined as businesses ‘skimping’ on the quality of a product or service,” says Scott A Wolla, economic education officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis. As raw prices go up with inflation, businesses skimp by spending less on services or materials to stay profitable – cuts that get passed down to the customer, even as prices remain stable.




In grocery stores, explains Balagtas, it’s now common for customers to bag their own items at checkout instead of having a clerk do it for them. The number of self-checkout stations has increased around the world, with fewer workers available to help customers pay – a change some consumers construe as a degradation of service.


Grocery aisles are also rife with skimpflation. Along with shrinking size and quantity of products, food manufacturers are applying skimpflation to the quality of goods to reduce costs. Often, this includes swapping out expensive, premium ingredients for cheaper, lower-quality ones while keeping the same price tags, or even raising them. To save money, for instance, Balagtas says some ice cream manufacturers have reduced some of the expensive milkfat in their products, instead replacing them with “other ingredients, including water and other components of milk, but also sweeteners”, says Balagtas.


0744, 04 October 2023


  1. Merlin

    This self-service concept has been around for quite awhile. How many people remember when a service station attendant refueled your car, washed (or streaked) your windshield, and offered to check the engine oil level for you? Initially when the gas self-service started they at least offered a per gallon discount for providing your own labor. Now these retailers act like you owe them your business and your labor, and if you don’t like it you can go stand in that long line over there and wait.

  2. dad29

    Skimpflation is also common in manufacturing. There it is called “value engineering”–which is to say “How much less metal/rubber/glass/whatever can I put into this product and still have it work?”

    Note that “work” in that question means “work…….for 10 years or less.”

  3. jsr

    Part of what drives “value engineering” is being able to more accurately determine how much metal/rubber/glass/whatever is really needed to make the product work reliably. Check out engines and car parts from the first half of the 20th century. It’s obvious now that those parts are way heavier than they needed to be. ‘Course, if Henry Ford would have used lighter parts if today’s design tools and knowledge had been available back then.

    I see that the average automobile lasts 12 years now, which is a new record.

  4. dad29

    Yah. “Value engineering” like was used on airplane parts forcing the grounding of 100++ planes belonging to UAL, Southwest, American…….

    Body parts of today’s cars cannot survive a low-speed collision any more. You’re lucky to get a television set to last 5 years. Note well, friend, that Allis-Chalmers combines and tractors are STILL in the field after 40 years of use, as are A-C hydro-dam components (the Hoover Dam) and most of its transformers and sub-stations.

    I call that “Built to last.” You may think otherwise.

  5. MjM

    “value engineering” = “planned obsolescence”

Pin It on Pinterest