This weekend while helping to man* the group yard sale several of my friends had on the other side of town, I shared my latest conspiracy theory. I guess it’s not really my latest one as it’s actually the only one I’m subscribing to at this moment. I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, but this time, I think I might be on to something.
A few weeks ago, while putting away groceries from the local chain store, I noticed the paper bags I’d carried home seemed rather small. Sure enough, when I went to stack them with the rest of my paper bags**, they were shorter. Over two and a half inches shorter, in fact. I thought this was a little strange, but didn’t think too much of it until I went to a different chain grocery store (a funkier, far more environmentally friendly one) and found the size of their paper bags had also shrunk. Since they are pretty eco-friendly and usually pack every single inch of my bags full in an effort to use fewer bags, I found this change a bit odd. I actually needed more bags than I would have during my last trip.
That’s when I realized the shorter bags aren’t really an effort to save money on the stores’ parts. Instead, they are an effort to make the consumers feel like we are getting more. Shorter bags means more bags. More bags means the trunk/back seat/hatchback area looks a heck of a lot fuller. Since gas prices, and by association nearly all other prices are rising, I think this is the stores’ latest ploy to make us feel like we are getting our money’s worth. Sure, we may have just spent $100 on groceries, but look, it filled six bags. Before gas prices soared over $4, that same amount of groceries only got us five bags. Obviously we’re getting more for my money, so things must be ok.
Clearly this is an untested theory. I have no evidence other than two grocery chains (one local and one national) to back me up, but still, it’s kind of a wierd coincidence. Why else would the bags be shrinking at the same time prices are rising and the economists are debating whether or not we are in a recession?
*Read, ocassionally flashed jazz hands at passing cars and cried out, “we have good stuff, I promise, come see it.”
**I get paper bags on purpose since the elementary school across the street has huge paper recycling containers. Since I switched about four months ago, I’ve taken the bags over exactly 0 times. They are starting to form a rather big pile in my family room though.