Inflation drives up prices for food at grocery stores, economics experts weigh in

Published: May. 10, 2022 at 5:44 PM EDT
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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - As inflation reaches a new 40-year high in the United States, shoppers are seeing the impacts of this on their wallets as prices for gas, groceries and household goods go up.

Families across the country, including the Richmond area, say they’re spending more at the supermarket with the climbing costs.

“On average, I used to spend $150, but now I spend $250,” said Ben Toney.

Lauren Blackburn, a Midlothian resident, also described the impact she’s feeling from these rising costs.

“Before you would spend, a family of four, $200 to $300 a week in groceries,” said Blackburn. “Now it’s almost $500.”

This comes as inflation skyrockets by 8.5 percent. According to the USDA’s Consumer Price Index, food prices were nearly 9 percent higher than in March 2021.

The USDA also predicts food prices at grocery stores and supermarkets will increase between 5 and 6 percent.

Meat, poultry and fish are some of the food items climbing in cost, which is leaving shoppers like Curtis Smith stretching his meals.

“I’ve switched up some meals, cut back,” he said. “Say I buy a whole chicken. I might break it down and make a chicken salad or some type of barbecue.”

Christopher Herrington, an economics professor with Virginia Commonwealth University, said there are several factors leading to these high costs, which include rising energy costs and high demand.

“Some of it is also rising costs from the producer side,” Herrington said. “They’re seeing higher costs on their side and passing some of that along to consumers. Some of it continues to be supply chain disruptions and just not being able to get all the raw ingredients.”

Tom Arnold, a professor of finance at the University of Richmond, said the state of the job market is also a factor in this.

“There’s a ton of job openings, but not a ton of people taking the jobs, so now it’s going to cost more to hire people,” he said.

As the Federal Reserve looks to curb inflation by increasing interest rates, Herrington says relief is going to take time.

“The Fed doesn’t want to raise rates too quickly for exactly the reason we just talked about which is they don’t want to induce a recession,” Herrington said. “It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to be a process of months and perhaps even a couple of years before we see inflation back down, you know, around that two percent target.”

Prices shoppers are working around with a budget and sales papers.

“For the most part, just sales and shopping in bulk,” said Blackburn.

Herrington also believes prices for wheat will increase in the near future as the war continues in Ukraine.

The Consumer Price Index for April will be released on Wednesday.

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