Bigger Sizes Aren’t Always Cheaper

Normally Mrs. Beagle handles the grocery shopping, and she always does a great job. Recently, she couldn’t go during her normal day and time due to schedule conflict resulting from Little Boy Beagle’s attending summer ‘bug’ camp (he loved it, of course!). So, we decided to head out as a family after dinner.

I pretty much try to stay out of the way and keep a handle on the kids (both met with varying success).  I can’t help but keep an eye on prices.

I noticed two examples of what I would consider a price discrepancy between sizes.  And not in the way you’d normally expect.

Carrots – We typically buy a bag of carrots that we then peel and slice.  They’re a lot cheaper than the pre-cut carrots, and I think they taste better, too.  I take them every day in my lunch.  They come in either one pound or three pound bags.  My wife forgot them so she sent me back for them mid-way through the trip.  The bags are in different areas of the vegetable area, and so I had to walk back and forth to check prices.  The one pound bags were 67 cents each, and a three pound bag was $2.33.  I quickly realized that you could buy three one pound bags for $2.01, saving 32 cents over the ‘bigger’ bag.

Shampoo – I use Suave shampoo, as it’s actually one of the few left that don’t have parabens (which aggravate a skin eczema problem I have on one hand).  Since this was for me, I went off to get this myself.  Again, I noticed that they had two sizes.  A 15-ounce bottle for 94 cents (I know, I really get the ‘expensive’ stuff) or a 22.5-ounce ‘family size’ bottle for $1.46.  If you buy the smaller bottle, you’d be paying the equivilent of $1.41 to get to the same number of ounces.  Once again, the smaller size was actually cheaper.

So what’s going on here?

I think the advice has been skewed so much into ‘bigger sizes are cheaper‘ that stores are trying to sneak in bigger prices for bigger sizes, hoping that customers won’t notice.

Granted, these two examples add up to a whopping 37 cents.  Nothing we’re ever going to get rich over.  You can’t even buy a stamp with that any more!

But, if they’re doing it on smaller ticket items, you never know what other items they could be applying reverse economies of scale towards.  In other words, you should keep an eye on unit pricing.  Don’t assume that the bigger sizes will yield you the best unit price.

Do you ever keep an eye on unit pricing when shopping?  Have you ever noticed where bigger sizes equal bigger pricing?