If it feels as if you're running through toilet paper rolls faster than ever before, that's because you are. Slowly but surely, toilet paper rolls have been shrinking. The squares were once 4.5 inches wide and 4.5 inches long. That standard, however, has shifted, and companies are selling sheets that are a half-inch shorter or thinner, or both.
Consumer Reports has says that rolls are becoming narrower, cardboard tubes are getting bigger, and sheets are shrinking in size and number.
But consumers are paying the same price. The explanation: The same few companies that make toilet paper also make other paper products, and those products haven't been selling well.
"Paper towel volume is way down," said Emily Balsamo, an industry analyst. (Think touch-free paper dispensers in public bathrooms. And hand dryers.) The thing about toilet paper rolls is that unlike paper towels, they're much harder to replace or ration. Companies know this very well. "They're hedging their bets with toilet paper, because Americans aren't ever going to start skimping on toilet paper," Balsamo said.