When we were at the supermarket the other day, I noticed, and made use, of some helpful new information for buying toilet paper. Next to each of the various offerings was the price per sheet. Since the brand was the same, it was easy to identify and buy, the cheapest offering, rather than doing a complex estimation and calculation.
I vaguely assumed I was enjoying the benefits of the market for corporate control, as the supermarket, formerly a small Coles outlet had been taken over by Foodworks. But this article by Ross Gittins informs me that a requirement for unit pricing has been introduced by the Rudd government. Gittins is sceptical, saying:
It’s a nice idea – the kind that appeals to economists – but I doubt it will do much good. It assumes shoppers are a lot more diligent and coldly calculating – a lot more ”rational” – than most of us are.
Since I’m an economist, my delight in this innovation is consistent with the first part of Gittins’ claim, but as a shopper I disagree with the second part. The great thing with this is that I don’t have to be diligent or calculating – the calculation has been done for me. Certainly, I’m benefiting from this without even knowing there was a policy, whereas I never even looked at the unlamented Grocery Watch site.