Three in four products in region increases in price, study says

Becky Backus loads groceries into the back of her car at Groceryland on South Limestone Street in February. Backus said at the time that her grocery bill increased by $150 per month. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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Becky Backus loads groceries into the back of her car at Groceryland on South Limestone Street in February. Backus said at the time that her grocery bill increased by $150 per month. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

From wine to eggs, haircuts to rent, vet services to energy costs, consumers in the Miami Valley region — including Clark and Champaign counties — have been getting squeezed by higher prices nearly everywhere they turn, according to new price survey data for U.S. urban areas.

U.S. inflation last month rose at the fastest pace since 1981, pushed up by increased costs of shelter, gasoline and food, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday.

In the first quarter of this year, the region saw year-over-year price increases in three-fourths of the products and services that were surveyed by the Cost of Living Index, which is published by the Council for Community and Economic Research.

Some local residents say they are decreasing spending where they can and altering shopping routines to cope with higher prices.

“I’ve had to cut back spending, reevaluate budgets and give up some of the things that I enjoy — or do a lot less of them — especially driving,” said Melissa Schubert, 37, of Dayton. “Everything — everything — is going up, it’s not just one place ... it’s across the board.”

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Local egg prices have risen in the Dayton region, according to a new survey of prices of goods and services in 260 U.S. urban areas. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Local egg prices have risen in the Dayton region, according to a new survey of prices of goods and services in 260 U.S. urban areas. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

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Local egg prices have risen in the Dayton region, according to a new survey of prices of goods and services in 260 U.S. urban areas. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

On Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that U.S. inflation increased 8.6% in May, compared to a year earlier.

Some of the biggest price increases were for shelter, airline fares, used cars and trucks and new vehicles, the bureau said, though medical care, household furnishings, recreation and apparel costs also jumped up.

Recently, the Council for Community and Economic Research released its Cost of Living Index for the first quarter of 2022.

The index surveys the prices of food, housing, utilities, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services in more than 260 U.S. urban areas. Data from the index is published quarterly.

In the first quarter of 2022, prices increased in 46 of 60 surveyed categories of goods and services categories in the region, compared to Q1 of 2021.

Prices increased in just 24 expenditure categories between the first quarters of 2020 and 2021.

Products that saw some of the largest price hikes in the Miami Valley region, included wine, a dozen eggs, boy’s jeans and potato chips.

In the first quarter, rent increased sharply and so did gas prices, dry cleaning, beauty salon services, home prices and doctor and dentist visits, according to the index.

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Wine prices have increased in the Dayton region, according to a new survey of prices in 260 U.S. urban areas. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Wine prices have increased in the Dayton region, according to a new survey of prices in 260 U.S. urban areas. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

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Wine prices have increased in the Dayton region, according to a new survey of prices in 260 U.S. urban areas. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

U.S. wine prices may have shot up because bottles have become more expensive to make and can be expensive to transport, according to some industry and news reports.

Egg prices have increased partly because of the fast-spreading avian flu, which has led to the killings and deaths of tens of millions of chickens and poultry.

Higher transportation costs also certainly play a role, as gas prices have reached record levels.

Rents have risen at the fastest pace in decades, according to some studies, and some local businesses have raised prices to address increased costs, while others are struggling to remain profitable.

When inflation increases, people’s purchasing power decreases, and consumers typically adjust by reducing spending and holding off on larger-ticket items like new cars, vacations and new housing, said Kevin Willardsen, an associate professor of economics at Wright State University.

High and rising prices also tends to result in many people decreasing or eliminating spending on little “luxuries” and nonessential items like entertainment such as subscriptions to streaming services, Willardsen said.

Netflix lost subscribers following a price hike, and some observers believe that suggests consumers are starting to react and modify their spending because of inflation. Other companies have blamed slowing sales growth on rising costs and prices.

“It’s little things like that you’ll cut out of your budget, because you can’t cut out gas, you can’t cut out food, you can’t cut out rent — and all of those things are increasing considerably,” Willardsen said.

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U.S. inflation rose 8.6% in May, year-over-year, which was the fastest growth since 1981, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Friday, June 10. CONTRIBUTED

U.S. inflation rose 8.6% in May, year-over-year, which was the fastest growth since 1981, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Friday, June 10. CONTRIBUTED

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U.S. inflation rose 8.6% in May, year-over-year, which was the fastest growth since 1981, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Friday, June 10. CONTRIBUTED

Wages have been increasing, and low-income earners have benefitted more than some higher-income workers, Willardsen said, but unfortunately in many cases the gains are being wiped out by higher prices.
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Linda and Alexander Avery shop at the new Groceryland store on South Limestone Street in Springfield following the grand opening ceremony in December. BILL LACKEY/STAFFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Linda and Alexander Avery shop at the new Groceryland store on South Limestone Street in Springfield following the grand opening ceremony in December. BILL LACKEY/STAFFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

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Linda and Alexander Avery shop at the new Groceryland store on South Limestone Street in Springfield following the grand opening ceremony in December. BILL LACKEY/STAFFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Schubert, the Dayton resident, said she is cutting back spending on clothes and entertainment, like going out to dinner or drinks with friends.

She said she has tried to reduce spending on “wants” because she can’t do very much about the spending she must do on “needs.”

But Schubert also said she tries to “cut corners” when grocery shopping, and she is trying to limit car trips vehicular travel because it recently cost $120 to fill up her gas tank.

“I am basing my menu and meals and cooking based solely on what’s on sale,” she said, adding that if prices continue to climb, “I guess I’m going to eat a lot of Ramen noodles.”

In response to rising prices, Beverly DeCoster said she has tried to “tighten up” her budget because she is retired and just started receiving Social Security benefits this spring.

“I’m being a little more careful,” said DeCoster, 64, who lives in the Dayton area. “I’m cutting out extra, unnecessary things.”

Some studies suggest inflation is causing people to buy cheaper brands, fewer products or products that are on sale.

Some local residents say they haven’t tightened their purse strings yet, but that could change.

Cecily Idle, 55, who lives in Kettering, said she hasn’t changed her shopping behaviors and probably won’t change what she buys, even if prices continue to climb.

Idle, who works as a dental hygienist, said she might try to purchase a little less of the products she normally buys if prices get significantly higher.

Idle her husband plan to drive to Maine this fall for a camping trip, but they may reconsider and instead stay closer to home if gas prices climb to $6 per gallon or higher.

“I think gas is the biggest concern, spending wise, for us,” she said.”I think if it gets up to $6 or $7, we may have to plan something closer to home.”

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