It’s not your imagination. Prices at the grocery store register keep going up all thanks to a perfect storm unlike anything seen in years according to grocery industry consultant for the Texas Retailers Association Gary Huddleston.
“I’ve seen inflation, of course, in my 45 years. I’ve seen supply chain issues and what we call out of stocks, trying to get products on the shelves. I’ve seen some labor issues, but I don’t believe I’ve ever seen it all come together at once, say how it has in the last 6 months,” said Huddleston.
He said two of the biggest factors are the increased employment costs due to the employee shortage and increased overtime. The other is fuel costs.
“Not only is it gasoline, it’s the petrochemicals to produce the packaging, the plastic bags, the plastic and all those ancillary products that petroleum provides for,” he said.
That pressure for manufacturers gets passed on to retailers who ultimately have no choice but to charge consumers more, especially as price hikes hit products at every level.
“If you think about a jar of preserves, it’s got strawberries in it. And the increased price of strawberries is one thing that goes into it. It’s got citric acid, which is a preservative, and the price of citric acid has gone up. It’s got sugar, and sugar is at an all-time high right now. And also, the packaging, the cost of the packaging has gone up,” said Huddleston.
Some of the highest hikes are on meat which is up about 15% from this time last year. For value, Huddleston recommends fresh produce, much of which is produced in Texas requiring less transportation.
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Though a significant drop isn’t on the horizon, the industry expects increases to ease sometime in the new year.
In the meantime, Huddleston says to expect to see more self-checkout and anything stores can do to cut costs.