Monday, January 2, 2023

Inflation watch, and reader feedback


On this, the first business day of 2023, we're reminded that our economy continues to be in serious trouble.  Inflation is still hitting hard, despite what the liberal pundits would have us believe, and it shows no sign of improvement (apart from wishful thinking, that is).

User Trucker Fren on Gab reported yesterday:

Almost $200 for a handful of groceries. I got barely anything. This has to be 50% higher than this time last year, it has to be

Agreeing with him, user Chadley Dudebro noted:

One of my colleagues found a grocery receipt from March 2019 in a kitchen drawer. He told his wife to buy exactly that list in December 2022. She had to sub a few items due to availability. But the moral of the story is, $93 worth of groceries in 2019 costs $209 in 2022.

If you have old grocery bills like that, it might be interesting to repeat the exercise yourself, and see how the numbers compare.

It's not just inflation - it's ongoing supply chain problems, too.  Many parts of the country are suffering shortages of many products.  Phil at Bustednuckles lives in the Vancouver, WA area.  He posted these images from his local Walmart (click 'em to biggem):

He writes:

We managed to get the last gallon of milk in the case.

That egg case is directly across the aisle from the milk case. Normally you would have to thread the needle between a floor full of goods and displays to get between them. Yesterday there was nothing but empty floor from one end of those two sections to the other.

The very fist thing we saw when we came in the door was a massive section of empty floor space that was probably 40 feet by fifty feet wide.

I will be 63 years old at the end of next month and never in all those years have I ever seen anything like this.

There's more at the link, as well as many comments from his readers about what they're seeing and experiencing in their own parts of the country.  Recommended reading.

Fortunately, here in North Texas we don't have many supply chain problems right now, but that can change quickly if problems arise.  I recall, back in 2021, the nearby city of Wichita Falls ran very low on all sorts of consumer needs.  Desperate shoppers from there promptly invaded nearby towns and tried to buy everything they had, only to be met with stiff resistance from locals who didn't want their shelves left bare.  The manager of our branch of Lowe's Market became something of a hero when he ordered that anyone whom he or the staff did not recognize had to produce their driver's license.  If it showed their home address to be outside our town, he refused to sell them anything, saying that his was a small store and had to satisfy local customers first.  We entirely approved, needless to say - although many visitors didn't!  My wife and I have patronized that store more often ever since then, as a "Thank You" for his loyalty to his regular customers.

How are you finding prices and availability of the things you need, readers?  Please let us know in Comments.


EDITED TO ADD:  Armstrong Economics calculates that the actual rate of real inflation in 2022 was a mind-boggling 32%.  That squares pretty well with my own calculation, which takes the official inflation rate and multiplies it by 3.5 to arrive at the real rate and get around bureaucratic obfuscation.  (I should add that when I wrote that article in May 2021, I figured the real inflation rate to be around 14.7%.  I'm not surprised to learn that it's more than doubled since then.  I expect it to keep going up for the foreseeable future, because our politicians and central bankers flatly refuse to learn from their mistakes.  If that happens, I may have to revise upward my 3.5x multiplier . . .)


Mike Austin said...

Here in Oklahoma City we have not had any shortages as far as I know. Even during the COVID panic we did fine. Inflation is of course almost doubling my food budget over the past year or so. Regular gas is at $2.35.

Hamsterman said...

Perhaps because I live in a major supply hub, the shortages have not been all that bad. There were no eggs at the local chain supermarket right after Christmas, but Costco had some but limit of 2 (of 24-packs). The spot shortages seem to have gotten a lot better. There are also new cars on the lots...and at those prices, they are staying on the lots!

The bulk of my staples have not increased by that much, but some items are through the roof (bacon, spices, canned goods I am rotating out). I paid as much for the Christmas Prime Rib this year as a few years ago, but got Choice instead of Prime, and Prime was either sold out or not for sale. Have to say, tried American Waygu steaks and they were good for the money.

LL said...

I'll throw my cracker in the soup, Peter. I'm not a "prepper" but I live very remotely and that lifestyle lends itself to a different mindset. Nearest hardware stores are 1.5. hours north, 1.2 hours south and 2 hours west. Gallup NMEX is 3+ hours east. I keep an inventory of "stuff" on hand. Much of what I need in the way of auto parts comes delivered from Rock Auto. The prices have doubled or tripled but I can still find things. I just have to pay. Food is up 100%+.

I fly to work, so the question of what I charge comes up. I relate everything to the cost of a new F-350 superduty. It's a truck, or two trucks or three trucks, so that customers relate to the inflated and obscene vehicle market. Or a nice house - US$1 million. Tao houses, or three houses.

Essentially, I charge 100% more (+exenses) than I did in 2019. You might say that's extortion, but it's the rate and if you're buried in enough trouble, you pay the rate. Or not.

I opened a new business based in Southern Europe and East Asia last week and I simply charge absurdly high prices. Unless you do, you won't make ANYTHING after the tax man has rogered you thoroughly. Overhead is absurd but people make $20/hr turning burgers so the scale just goes up. I don't know what else to do.

Home foreclosure rates are astronomical, home prices are tumbling, and people are forced into penury. The government prints money in trillion-dollar blocks without backing and as they do so, interest rates will go up and inflation will continue to climb. From a business point of view, I have to keep looking for whales who can pay for services.

I had a client three years ago who paid $300K for a service. He came back to the well last week and the same thing will cost him $1 million. I'm not trying to gouge but overhead has tripled. I pass it on or I don't make a profit and I'm not a communist.

catslave said...

In Cincinnati, we're seeing some large holes on grocery shelves, but they're being refilled reasonably quickly. Our local Meijer has had a 2-jar limit on peanut butter for weeks (ever since the recall), but the other chains are fully stocked with no limits.

Price increases this week over last week on at least 10% of products. Everything that was on sale last week went up bigtime this week, but we were expecting it.

Gas has been below $3/gal for a while. Not complaining--we expected it to jump over $4 after the elections, but that hasn't happened here. Yet. . .

Nothing major to report. The slow price creep upwards continues. No idea when the other shoe will drop, but we keep on preparing as best we can.

boron said...

Thank you, LL.
I continue to tell my friends that our present government has been printing money like it's going out of style - if they run the printing presses to print twice as many dollar bills, my dollar is now worth fifty cents. Not only that, but most of these dollar bills appear to be disappearing into a voracious and starving maw, not even into the general circulation.
And the politicians (of every color and stripe) just keep getting fatter and fatter.
the person in the White House took our at least half of our oil reserves and sent them to Europe - a port in the Netherlands, I believe.
Where did this huge amount of oil go to? I am unable to track it.

Ed Campbell said...

My prices locally have gone up between 40 and 45% for the foodstuffs I usually buy. There were a few shortages, mostly in infant stuff (diapers and formula) but not very many at all. Some costs I just avoid. For example last year lumber was outrageous and I just didn't build anything. The prices have come down considerably from their high and this year I may be able to build that extension to my barn and finish some trim inside my house.

Rob said...

I've been seeing holes at WM for sometime, nothing as bad as what what Phil saw but lot's of shelf space. Then again it's walmart ... they have been cutting back on what they stock for some years, i figured they were just not spending the money on stock.

Eggs... Last Wednesday an 18 pack was $5.08 at WM and $5.85 at Publix, I noted the cost difference & higher price in a text.. Yesterday eggs at WM were $6.74 for an 18 pack and $4.52 for a dozen.

I need to look around & see if I can find an old grocery receipt..

sooperedd said...

I've completely stopped buying unless I 100% need it.

KurtP said...

In Seguin, TX.
HEB has product- expensive product, but it's there.
I haven't set foot in Wally-World since their best buddies gave us the 'Rona and 0biden after the voting changes by unelected bureaucrats in blue states.

Beans said...

Yes, prices are up. Duh. Let's go, Brandon.

But in relation to Phil at BustedKnuckles, seriously, if you were a major corporation, would you ship anything to that section of the Left Coast?

It'll be jacked, or the stores ransacked and the police and the prosecutors and the judges will do nothing. And if you as a corporation try anything like hiring private security or implement other security features, well, the cities and states will destroy the corporation and seek actual charges against the board of directors and whomever else they can get their stinky little leftist fingers on.

And... things are always a little lean between Christmas and New Years in products. Between vacations and holidays there's a slowdown on labor.

Saw the same thing last year at this time. Nothing new under the sun, dammit.

Andrew Smith said...

O' for a few mean tweets.

heresolong said...

I've got a buddy in Vancouver WA and he has been sending me pictures of the empty Walmart shelves since Covid started. So this is a three year problem there but oddly we haven't seen it nearly as much in our area (different part of WA). A few gaps here and there but not aisles of empty like pictured above.

Bob NC said...

Here in the Raleigh- Durham area the main impact has been the increasing prices- milk has gone up abut 20%,for example, with similar increases in other items.

We are noticing more out of stock particular, children's medicines some of which are nearly impossible to find, and name brand things like Kleenex.
As far as bare shelves, there have been some empty spaces but my wife does all our grocery ordering online, so we really don't see any empty shelves unless we have to go in the store for something.

But my sense is that we are just starting to see the impact of both higher prices and shortages.

Jeremy VanGelder said...

It looks like the Wal-Mart distribution centers for Oregon and Washington are in Hermiston, OR and Grandview, WA. So truck traffic from them to Vancouver would be subject to closures of the Columbia Gorge. I-84 closed in late December of last year. Maybe I-90 stayed open and so the places north of Vancouver were still supplied via that route?