If you’ve been on the toilet paper aisle in the grocery store lately, you’ve probably noticed that prices have increased tremendously.
Retail data from market research firm NielsenIQ indicates that the average unit price for toilet paper was $8.91 in June 2022, which represents a 7% jump compared to the period year.
Why Is the Price of Toilet Paper So High?
A slowing of the U.S. housing market is putting a squeeze on lumber prices and extending to other tree byproducts, namely wood pulp, which is used in the manufacture of toilet paper, according to the Los Angeles Times. Sawmills in Canada, the global leader in softwood lumber production, are shuttering as well, the publication reports.
To counter the effects on the global market, factories in Sweden and Finland are expected to boost bath tissue production by 1 million tons in the second half of 2023, according to the L.A. Times, which cites Fastmarkets senior economist Patrick Cavanagh.
“The question now becomes if a period of tight market conditions will develop before the majority of the new capacity arrives,” Cavanagh was quoted as saying.
How Much Does Toilet Paper Cost Right Now?
A comparison of five major grocery store retailers shows the price of select brands of toilet paper (2-ply and 30-count) as of February 2023, at an average of $24.04. Let’s look at a sample breakdown:
|Amazon Basics||30 Rolls||$22.52|
|Target Soft and Strong||30 Rolls||$19.99|
|Walmart Great Value||30 Rolls||$29.67|
How To Save on Toilet Paper
Ignore ‘Mega,’ ‘Jumbo’ Descriptors
Toilet paper descriptors like “mega” and “jumbo” mean essentially nothing other than marketing verbiage. “Shrinkflation,” the phenomenon in which Clark says manufacturers downsize product quantities and sizes but keep prices the same, has taken hold in the toilet tissue industry.
“Procter &Gamble’s Charmin’s ultra soft toilet paper 18-count mega package now contains 244 two-ply sheets, down from a previous 264 double-ply sheets per roll,” CNN reports. “And super mega rolls of the brand now display 366 sheets versus a previous 396 sheets per roll.”
Look for the Number of Square Feet
Because bath tissue manufacturers are reducing the number and size of the sheets, the best measure of how much value you’re getting for the price is square feet. Matched against price, square feet are the key indicator of value when it comes to buying toilet tissue.
If you’re shopping online, you should be able to zoom in on the product image to see the number of square feet on most, but not all, toilet tissue packages.
If you’re shopping in person, you’ll need to look at the packaging to determine this figure. Of course, you want the highest number of square feet for the lowest cost (at least 2-ply, thank you!).
To determine what kind of deal you’re getting, divide the price of the toilet tissue by the square feet on the package. The result, once you move the decimal over to the right two times, will be what you’ll pay per square foot in pennies.
For example, this pack of Amazon Basics toilet tissue clearly shows you the total square feet (233.3 in each six-roll-pack of toilet paper, five total in the entire order, so 1,167 square feet) you get for the price. If you divide the price ($22) by the square feet (1,167), you get 1.88 cents per square foot when you move the decimal.
By comparison, a 30-roll count of Kirkland Signature toilet paper costs $23.99, but has 1,425 square feet and costs 1.68 cents per square foot. That’s a better deal!
When it comes to toilet paper math, researching the internet, I found a few other ways to tabulate square feet: This Reddit thread says to divide the final number by 144 (1 sq. ft = 144 sq. in.) On the other hand, TrueMoneySaver.com uses the number of square feet and multiplies it by 0.015 (a penny and a half).
Use the Toilet Paper Value Calculator
The New York Times highlighted a San Francisco deal hunter who created a Toilet Paper Value Calculator, which takes into account the number of rolls, sheets and price to tabulate a letter grade that indicates toilet tissue value. You can add brand and other details to enhance the results.
“With a price point for reference, you can easily figure out if a sale is actually a good deal, so you can save time while shopping both in-store and online,” creator Victor Ly, an avid commenter on SlickDeals.com, is quoted as saying.
For the record, Ly says Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand is the best toilet paper when it comes to deals. Clark would be happy to know that as it’s another great way to save at Costco!