Summer is about to begin in America – and so is sticker shock
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – With coronavirus cases dropping and 1.8 million U.S. residents getting vaccinated every day, more and more Americans are planning this upcoming Memorial Day weekend to return to old pleasures like friends, parties, trips and afternoons at a ball game.
They will also encounter something new and less pleasant: rising prices.
Overall, US prices in April were up about 3.1% from February 2020, the month before the pandemic brought the economy to a halt.
And prices are expected to continue to rise for much of the summer, driven, among other things, by bottlenecks limiting the supply of materials and labor and growing consumer demand.
But what about the inflation in things and the particular indulgences at the start of summer?
Reuters has developed a “Memorial Day Weekend Price Index” to capture the rising cost of an imaginary basket of goods and services peculiar to the first long weekend of the summer, which takes place this year. from May 29 to 31.
The index, made up largely of leisure spending and excluding the cost of accommodation and doctor visits among other mundane items, rose about 4.3%, faster than the overall index of consumer prices.
As Americans venture out to make and buy things that many haven’t had for a long time, they will find that the price changes are anything but uniform. Here is a sample:
Go shopping: Memorial Day sales are a lasting feature of the summer three-day opening weekend, with deals on big-ticket items like washing machines and mattresses. But with rising demand, rare parts and low inventories, durable goods prices were up 7.5% from February 2020.
A weekend getaway: Despite a sharp rise recently, including a 10% increase from March to April, airfares are still 18% lower than pre-pandemic levels, meaning a plane ticket today sells for roughly which he could have done about 15 years ago. Accommodation has also increased dramatically in recent months, but the price index that tracks hotels, motels, and Airbnbs, among others, is still around 5% lower than before the pandemic. . Car rental is another matter: the auto and truck rental price tracking index is up 45%.
Dinner, drinks: Overall, the price increase is in line with the average for all goods and services since the start of the pandemic, with the price of full-service meals and snacks increasing by about 3% since February 2020, the same as that of alcoholic beverages outside the home.
Barbecue in the courtyard: Throwing food on the grill for friends or family? Ground beef prices are up 7%; hot dogs are up 11%. Vegetables have only increased by 2% since February 2020, and the price of a fresh or frozen pie for dessert has fallen by 1%.
Movies, theme parks, ball games: Overall, the cost of admission to a movie, theater, amusement park or concert is up just 2% from pre-pandemic levels. With some cinemas permanently closed and other large theaters reopening or starting to accommodate larger crowds, it’s unclear how the balance of supply and demand may change that. Meanwhile, in April, the price index for admission to sporting events was down 1% from the pre-pandemic level.
A haircut and a manicure: The price index for haircuts and other personal services like manicures and pedicures is up about 6% since before the pandemic. Bookings at tattoo parlors are said to be on the rise, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not track the price of body art.
(Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Dan Burns and Nick Zieminski)
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