US inflation 2022: Are stores taking advantage of rising prices? Expert weighs in

Current inflation rate has consumers paying more on everyday items
CHICAGO (WLS) -- From produce to paper products and gasoline, prices on just about everything have skyrocketed, and some consumers are wondering if companies are being opportunistic with inflation and the many ways everyday items cost more.

Phil Lempert, editor of The Supermarket Guru, commented on if companies are using this inflation period to jack up prices because they know people will pay.

"Well, we saw that in the beginning of the pandemic, especially with PPE, and those companies had to push their prices back down," Lempert said. "We have had some major companies, especially in the food sector, come out and say that consumers love their products, and they're going to be able to get their full price for it. But the reality is, no, there are not a lot of opportunistic sellers that are out there that are trying to just gouge consumers. That's not the case."

In the Chicago Metro area, prices this past January were up 6.8% from January 2021 across all items, according to the Consumer Price Index.

Nationally in January 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

- The cost of a dozen eggs was $1.47; last month, they were $1.93.
- Bread was $1.55 a pound, up to $1.56 last month.
- A pound of chicken was $1.60, up to $1.62 last month.

- Ground beef was $4.31 a pound, up to $4.77 last month.
- Whole milk was $3.47 per gallon, up to $3.79 last month.
- A pound of bananas was $0.60, up to $0.63 last month.
- A pound of oranges was $1.30, up to $1.43 last month.
- A pound of tomatoes was $1.93, down to $1.89 last month.

Lempert said companies can only absorb so much.

SEE MORE: US Inflation: Expert tips for how to save money on groceries, cars, gas and more

For example, when you go into a supermarket and see them wiping down the checkout every 30 minutes, cleaning the shopping carts, cleaning the door handles, all that comes with a cost.

And it's not just supermarkets that are impacted. Lempert said the car industry has also taken a hit.

"When we look at automobiles, for example, one of the things that we've heard a lot about are the shortages of chips. So what that means is there's less cars coming off the assembly line. Also what that has done, not only has it increased the price of new cars, but it's increased dramatically the price of used cars. So the bottom line is take care of your car as long as you can because those prices will come down once we have this chip shortage resolved, but, for now, you're going to pay more," he said.
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