"Instead of raising the price of bread my local grocery store is just now
selling a half a loaf of sourdough and charging the same price that
used to get you a full loaf"
They do it because peasants are dumb enough to fall for it. Or, worse, they detect it and then submit to it. Either way, it means you're spending more on packaging than you were before because you have the misfortune to be connected to the mass market. Why not make inflation worse when you can make it worse, right guys?
Presumably there are stores that cater to non-dumbasses, which honourably present inflation as inflation, but unfortunately I don't know much about them. On the plus side I buy mainly produce which isn't affected by this. E.g. meat is sold by the pound regardless & regardless.
The problem is that a democratic or egalitarian or nurture-fundamentalist regime lets the peasants poison nearly the entire retail economy with their dumbassery, and it takes enormous amounts of money to escape the cesspool. Not to mention etiquette, ethics, etc etc. It all has to either cater to crippled peasant cognition, or is about exploiting crippled peasant cognition.
For shrinkflation in particular, the peasant gets stuck on a "fair" price, because using real money instead of banknotes, prices more or less remain stable. For centuries there was indeed a stable "fair" price for most goods. Quite possibly before agriculture there were millennia of stable prices.
If you pull the price up they go bananas. Full chimpout. You can make things smaller and they'll doubt themselves, though. They don't fixate on weights and measures, aside from prices.* Precise scales didn't exist on the savannah. Do you smell an exploit? Creators sure do.
*(Some peasants keep receipts, but none of them keep records of weights and stuff, so...)
99.9% of marketing is about tricking peasants by exploiting their lack of education and self-control. If you actually need a product you will buy it even if it isn't marketed. The ads just need to say, "You can buy it here," so you can find a supplier. Non-useless products hardly need ads at all, which reveals that only useless products need ads. Goodhart's law also applies. Epistemically, an advertisement is prima facie evidence that you should not buy a product. E.g. I remember seeing many Alienware ads, which makes me believe they are overpriced or downright shoddy machines. I'm confident enough that I haven't bothered to check. Peasants, of course, can only dream of building their own machine or otherwise running around the end of this phenomenon.
I almost said milk ads were an exception, but I remembered in time that milk is basically very expensive water. It has a trace of residual cream in it; buy cream instead. Demand is low so the price is low. See also: regular (non-lean) beef. Thanks, food pyramid. Who wants the peasants bidding up my food? I sure don't. (Real AAA/prime lords, of course, have so much money it doesn't matter, which raises the question of why they're driving down my food prices for me. I'm just lucky I guess.)
Realize almost all modern wealth is based on capital investment. Either in machines or R&D, which make labour more productive. Imagine all the money spent on useless trinkets and signalling was instead spent on more R&D. Imagine a HOA except advertising is banned instead of not putting out your garbage just so. Or at least imagine it spent on patronizing worthwhile artists instead of on patronizing "art" that your nine-year-old could produce by fiddling with a random drawing program for an afternoon.
P.S. My city has a prominent anticommunism memorial, but ironically it was obviously designed by a communist and looks like shit. You would think it's a bit of random scrap if it didn't have an inscription.
P.P.S. Milk is in fact adulterated expensive water. Some folks are sensitive to the adulterations, so it triggers allergies and carries ~no nutrients. More precisely, the thing called "milk" in the grocery store isn't milk at all, but instead some bizarre industrial by-product of milk "processing," but still has the historical cachet of milk because the peasants really are that slow.