Saturday, 19 November 2016


Let's start with this one. It features a process whereby manufacturers impose (in some cases) quite large increases in the price of their product by reducing its size rather that a straightforward increase in the price.

Here is an example. Bulmers have reduced the size of their Wild Blueberry and Lime Cider bottles from 568ml to 500ml. This is a 12% reduction in size but the price has remained the same; in the case of my local pub, both bottles are £3.70 meaning that the actual price per millilitre has increase from 0.65140845p per millilitre to 0.74p per millilitre. If Bulmer's had kept the bottle size the same and just increased the price by 44p, we would all know what had happened but in this case, who checks?

They are by no means the only manufacturer to do this. A number of newspapers have picked up on this and some have even said a change in the law is needed to prevent it. I've not heard anything from the government that suggests a change in the law is imminent.

An article in the Guardian this April highlights a few of the worst offenders including the manufacturers of Surf washing powder who reduced their pack size from 2Kg to 1.61Kg without reducing the price. This is the same as adding almost a 25% price hike to their product, but I wonder how many people noticed.

The other thing that occurs to me is in regard to the Consumer Price Index. This index is the governments main measure of inflation in the economy and includes the Retail Price Index in it's calculation. I wonder if the shrinking size of the packaging of household items is taken into account. I'm assuming it must, otherwise it would result in a substantial inaccuracy in the calculated rate of inflation. if the bottle of beer was shown to have remained at £3.70 it would show 0% inflation rather than the actual 12%.


I don't generally gamble, it's not an ethical thing or anything like that, it's just that I provide the statistical counterpoint to that person who always seems to win, that is to say, I always seem to lose.

So the other day, I found myself on the National Lottery website for reasons I can't quite recall. According to Camelot (the lottery organiser) the Euro Millions draw is "even better". The improvements they have made is to increase the ticket price by 25% and add more numbers thereby making it statistically as near impossible to win as makes no odds. One firm of bookmakers was giving better odds on Wayne Rooney becoming the next Prime Minister.

They clearly have an entirely different understanding of the term "even better" than the rest of us.

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