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Smooth criminals make morning shave expensive

Friday - 1/27/2012, 5:51am  ET

razor shaving (AP)
Razor blades are among the most commonly stolen items. (AP)

Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

WASHINGTON -- It's one of the mysteries of shopping. Why are razor blade refills so expensive?

Part of the answer is because they're so expensive.

In the razor industry, they're called system shavers. You buy the handle, usually with one or two cartridges included.

If you like the shave, you'll keep buying refills.

A four-pack refill of the popular five-blade Gillette Fusion costs about $16.

"We'll give away the gun, and make money on the bullets." That's the marketing strategy often quoted in the razor blade industry.

Crooks know that.

The National Retail Federation and Food Marketing Institute both include razor blade cartridges on their list of most-stolen items.

Stolen razor blades end up being sold at flea markets, on street corners and online.

That's why some retailers keep their refills behind the counter, on locked display racks or in display racks that purposely shriek when a shopper or shoplifter takes out a cartridge.

Razor blade companies often juggle packaging. A five-blade shaving head may only contain three cartridges in a refill, while a three-blade head contains five cartridges.

While men and women often complain blades for their gender are more expensive, industry insiders disagree.

Besides the blade angle and color, razor blades are similar in cost to make and usually similar in retail price.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)