sticker shock

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Coined circa 1981, in reference to price stickers affixed to items for sale.


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sticker shock (usually uncountable, plural sticker shocks)

  1. (idiomatic, chiefly US) Disgust, shock, or fright upon learning the price of an item offered for sale.
    • 1981 November 9, P. Witteman, K. Pierce, “Going from Bad to Even Worse”, in Time:
      Last week Jensen returned to his dealer's showroom to eye the new Continental, but he quickly became another victim of what Detroit calls "sticker shock." The price on the car's window: $25,692. Says he: "Damn, that is expensive! It persuaded me to keep driving my '80 until it won't go any more."
    • 1996 Dec, Ed Henry, Taking on Sticker Shock, Kiplinger's Personal Finance:
      Now the 1997 model year brings a slew of new and redesigned models that tackle sticker shock head-on.
    • 2022 August 8, Nicole Hong, “$15 French Fries and $18 Sandwiches: Inflation Hits New York”, in New York Times[1], →ISSN:
      This was supposed to be a summer of long-awaited celebrations in New York City, the return of a packed calendar full of birthday dinners and happy hours. But New Yorkers are confronting sticker shock everywhere they look, whether they’re shopping for barbecue supplies at the grocery store, ordering a beer after work or grabbing a late-night slice of pizza.
    • 2023 June 10, Tim Hayward, “The pie's the limit”, in FT Weekend, Life & Arts, page 2:
      But we have been educated, by a warped system, to believe that food is cheap as of right. That is why many of us are now suffering sticker shock when we eat out.

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