The Times Herald (Norristown, PA)
‘LOOKING FOR BARGAINS’
Consumers watch spending habits as they cope with rising prices, inflation
Kristin Eck and her family live for vacation, but this year, they’re scaling back their plans.
They have no choice, Eck said, due to the high price of airline tickets and the rising costs of nearly everything else.
“We usually go on a pretty decent trip, but I can honestly say we probably won’t be going on a huge vacation this year,” Eck said.
Eck, 55, of Spring Township, Berks County, said cutting back on vacation is one of several ways her family is coping with a 40-year high in inflation that has impacted nearly every vital sector, from the price of food to the cost of transportation.
On average, prices for key goods and services have risen 7.7% over the past 12 months, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, which is used as a measure of inflation.
Food prices alone rose significantly this year: Bureau data shows the 12-month average price increase for all food items through October was 10.9%.
The spike in the cost of gasoline is even more stark: The average price of gas in the U.S. rose 76% between October 2020 and October 2022, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Those numbers translate to a shifting way of life for many Berks households who have been forced by inflation to make changes — sometimes dire changes — in the way they spend and save money.
Eck says she’s found herself comparing grocery store prices
to see where the deals are and using coupons to get the best price.
“I know Giant has in their flyer, if you buy a piece of meat, you get three or four items free,” Eck said.
For fruits and vegetables, Eck says she’s been frequenting discount stores like Aldi and Lidl because they usually have lower prices.
Gas prices haven’t impacted Eck as much since she and her husband have short commutes, but they fill their tanks at Wawa and use the store’s mobile app to reduce gas prices.
Clothes shopping, too, has changed for Eck in the wake of inflation.
“We look for the bargains…my daughter goes thrift shopping instead of buying name brands in the store,” Eck said. “And if we do buy brand names, we