Inflation has hit consumers nearly everywhere they turn, and now restaurants are squeezing customers by shrinking the portion sizes but keeping prices the same in a concept that has been dubbed shrinkflation.
Skrinkflation has crept its way into consumer goods, with products in grocery stores getting smaller while still maintaining their traditional price. Cookies have a smaller count. Toilet paper has fewer ply sheets and cereal and chips have fewer ounces.
But now, restaurants are looking for ways to save on rising costs by reducing the size of the meal that they’re serving to consumers without cutting the price.
According to Bloomberg, restaurant chains such as Subway are offering sandwiches with less meat, Domino’s has cut its boneless wings from 10 pieces to eight, and Burger King also cut its nugget meal to the same degree.
Nailya Ordabayeva, a marketing professor at Boston College, told Bloomberg, “People tend to underestimate changes in object sizes. It’s pretty convenient for companies to actually move size, move around size, more than they do price, because people do notice price changes more.”
And consumers do expect the shrinking portion sizes from restaurants, according to a survey by restaurant back-of-house software provider MarketMan, as reported by Restaurant Business.
As many as 3 of 4 consumers said in the survey that they expect restaurants to maintain margins by shrinking their portion sizes while keeping their current prices, using shrinkflation.
The survey also indicated that two-thirds of respondents expect restaurants to start to use less expensive ingredients without telling customers, and 56% of survey participants said they would be slightly willing to pay more for their orders if the restaurant was upfront and acknowledged it was trying to preserve profits.
But the survey showed that 74% of respondents would cut back on eating out if menu prices suddenly increased.
But it doesn’t mean that restaurants haven’t raised their prices too. The latest government data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released on Wednesday showed that the cost of food away from home was up 7.2% over the last 12 months.