Unit Pricing: Fiddling the Unit of Measure

Another trip to WalMart, another unit pricing puzzle

Here’s the house brand towel:

WM Deco Towel - unit price
WM Deco Towel – unit price

And here’s the name-brand towel for a mere one cent more per hundred towels:

Bounty Select-a-Size Towel - unit price
Bounty Select-a-Size Towel – unit price

How can this be?

Easy! Notice that the name-brand towel allows you to tear off a smaller sheet, which is actually a good idea. Even better, at least from their perspective: more sheets per package = lower unit price! I didn’t check the actual mini-towel size, but surely it’s less than half the usual size, so the comparable unit prices is more than a factor of two higher than shown.

I suppose it’s only a matter of time before WalMart slices their towels in half to get an even better unit price.

Carpet and floor tile used to be priced per square yard. Now it’s roughly the same dollar amount per square foot.