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Coronavirus pandemic drives consumer goods prices sharply

Last updated May 3, 2021 7:03 PM EDT

Grocery shoppers see the shock of stickers at the supermarket. Almost everything suddenly costs more.

Rising prices at a local grocery store adds $ 40 or more to Tammy Gunther’s weekly grocery bill. She said she spent $ 130 on five bags of groceries. “It feels like last year it would’ve been $ 90,” Gunther said.

She is not alone. Americans pay more for basic commodities. Citrus prices are up 9.8%, bacon 8.1% and beef 7.1%.

At the gas station, prices are up more than 22% from a year ago. Leo Feler, senior economist at UCLA, said gas prices fell so low last year that it put some oil producers out of business. Production still hasn’t caught up as drivers hit the road again.

“They are as high as they were just before the pandemic,” Feler said of gasoline prices.

Demand for groceries increased by 11% because people squatting at home, putting pressure on suppliers, which pushed up food prices.

“This is going to start to change as people buy less in grocery stores and as they eat out more,” said Feler, who doesn’t think this is the start of an inflationary period. “It’s very different from the 1970s. Consumers have a lot more power these days.”

But consumers can still expect basic items like toilet paper, diapers, and toothpaste to cost more. Procter & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark and Coca-Cola have announced that they are raising prices because they pay more for raw materials in short supply.

“It’s bad for your wallet, but it’s good because we’re back to where we were before,” Feler said.

Consumer prices are expected to stabilize over the next few months. Wood may be the exception – it has skyrocketed by over 300% as people trapped at home improve their spaces and construction is not expected to slow down.

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