We Still Don’t Believe How Much Things Cost

Deodorant was what changed Rob Cooper’s mind about the economy. 

After paying under $4 for his signature Old Spice Stronger Swagger for a decade, the 49-year-old was shocked last year to see it priced at $7.99. 

“My brain just cannot rationalize paying twice as much,” says Cooper, the Ambler, Pa.-based financial officer of a retail chain. “It doesn’t feel right.” 

Consumer-behavior researchers call Cooper’s expectation of $4 deodorant a reference price.

A yearslong run of higher prices has unmoored many Americans’ expectations of what daily purchases should cost, from a cup of coffee to a package of paper towels. Shoppers are also put off by paying the same or higher prices for smaller amounts of stuff, what’s known as shrinkflation

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