Just in April, grocery store prices jumped 2.6 percent—the highest one-month bump since 1974.
This week, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a surge in grocery store prices. Looking at just April, grocery prices increased 2.6 percent, making it the steepest one-month increase in almost half a century. The price surge comes alongside a reported 14.7 percent unemployment rate by the Bureau, the worst since the Great Depression. That comes out to mean 20 million people without jobs and one in five American households threatened by food insecurity, according to The Washington Post.
It doesn't take an economics degree to link grocery store inflation to the effects of the coronavirus. Lockdown conditions meant to slow COVID-19 have increased demand for grocery goods, cooking from home supplanted closed-down restaurants, meat-packing factories shut down, and supply chains just couldn't make the adjustment gracefully. Oh, and panic-buying—though some, like Costco, report less of that.
All that translates to bigger numbers on your receipt at the supermarket.
The price-raising was broad-based, but some areas spiked harder. Over the last month:
Meats, poultry, fish, and egg prices rose 4.3 percent.
Fruits and vegetables climbed 1.5 percent.
Cereals and bakery products went up 2.9 percent.
Dairy goods increased 1.5 percent.
And people keep buying tons of eggs—driving the price up 16.1 percent.
Other prices are lower?
Even as grocery prices go up, prices everywhere else are reaching record lows. Gas, energy, goods, transportation, warehousing, services, apparel, hotels, cars—stocks are down, demand is down, and taken in aggregate, producer prices are the lowest since 2009. According to Reuters:
"Deflation, a decline in the general price level, is harmful during a recession as consumers and businesses may delay purchases in anticipation of lower prices, worsening the economic downturn."
Some good news:
Not all grocery prices rose! Ham, breakfast sausage, butter, prepared salads, tomatoes, and fresh cupcakes all had lower prices in April.
Thoughts on price hikes at grocery stores? Are you learning to cook better at home? Comment below!