Nine in 10 Americans say inflation has forced them to bargain-hunt for groceries


Nine in 10 Americans say inflation has forced them to bargain-hunt for groceries while 77% are cutting back on restaurants and entertainment

  • New poll finds that most Americans are changing habits due to inflation
  • Nine in ten are more likely to search for bargains for products they buy
  • Three-quarters are cutting back on restaurants and entertainment spending
  • Two-thirds say they expect inflation to get worse in the next year
  • Most still plan to take a summer vacation, but 61% say gas prices are a big factor
  • Inflation hit 8.3% in April, and last month’s figure will be released on Friday 
  • Groceries are up 10.8% and gas up 62% from prices a year ago 

Inflation is forcing Americans to make big changes in their shopping and spending habits, and the majority expect price increases to get worse in the next year, a new poll has found.

The latest US consumer price data is due out on Friday, and is expected to show annual inflation remained near a 40-year high at 8.2 percent in May — a slight decrease from the prior month but still four times higher than pre-pandemic levels.

From the grocery store to the gas pump, rising prices have been unavoidable for most Americans, and are taking their toll, especially on working-class families who devote much of their paychecks to basic necessities.  

In a new Washington Post-Schar School poll conducted in April and May, 87 percent of Americans said that recent price increases had been a financial stress on their household.

The same proportion said that they had made more of an effort to find the cheapest prices for the products they buy, while 77 percent said they had cut back on eating out or entertainment spending. 

Inflation is forcing Americans to make big changes in their shopping and spending habits, and the majority expect price increases to get worse in the next year

Inflation is forcing Americans to make big changes in their shopping and spending habits, and the majority expect price increases to get worse in the next year

Shoppers are seen inside a grocery store in San Francisco last month. A poll finds that 87% of Americans are making more of an effort to bargain hunt due to inflation

Shoppers are seen inside a grocery store in San Francisco last month. A poll finds that 87% of Americans are making more of an effort to bargain hunt due to inflation

The poll found that 66 percent say they expect inflation to get worse in the next year, while only 21 percent expect to see an improvement and 12 percent expect no change. 

Seventy-seven percent of Americans said that financially, they are either falling behind or have just enough to maintain their standard of living 

In particular, soaring gasoline and food prices have hit low-income Americans the hardest, and even many middle class families have been forced to change their spending habits.

Inflation data from April showed that grocery prices have shot up 10.8 percent in the past year, the largest such annual increase since 1980. Food away from home was up 7.2 percent from a year ago. 

On Thursday, national average gas prices hit a new record of $4.97 per gallon, a 62 percent increase from prices at the pump a year ago. Twenty US states now average more than $5 per gallon.

Gas and electric bills now account for about 34 percent of the monthly budgets for the lowest-earning consumers, up from 31 percent last year, according to the National Energy Assistance Directors Association.

‘The cost of energy is becoming unaffordable,’ Mark Wolfe, executive director of NEADA, told Bloomberg

‘We could have severe hardship in this country,’ Wolfe said. ‘Families’ budgets are being cut. It’s like they’re being taxed, and there’s no end in sight.’ 

Inflation and soaring gas prices have emerged as a key political threat to President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats ahead of the midterms.

But at least among those responding to the Post poll, many appear to agree with the Biden administration’s messaging blaming corporations and Vladimir Putin for rising energy costs. 

The new Washington Post poll found that 58 percent blame Biden a ‘great’ or ‘good deal’ for the recent increase in gas prices, while 72 percent blame corporate greed and 69 percent blame Russia.

Most Americans still plan to take a summer vacation, but 61% say gas prices will be a ‘major factor’ 

After two years of widespread pandemic disruptions, the vast majority of Americans say they do intend to take at least one vacation away from home this summer.

The new poll found that 72 percent of Americans said they will definitely or probably take a vacation away from home this summer.

Among those who plan to take a vacation, 77 percent said they planned to travel on one or more of their summer vacations by car, while 50 percent planned to fly at least once.

Across all Americans, 61 percent said gas prices would be a ‘major factor’ in making their summer vacation plans, while 52 percent said the same of flight prices.

Industry experts predict that the 2022 summer travel season will still be one of the busiest on record — but higher costs could force some families to adjust their plans, perhaps by planning shorter trips.

The new Post-Schar poll found that among those planning vacations this summer, 78 percent planned to travel within the US, 7 percent said they would travel outside the country, and 16 percent had both types of trips planned.

Gas prices are displayed at a BP gas station in Manhattan on June 4. Across all Americans, 61 percent said gas prices would be a 'major factor' in making their summer vacation plans

Gas prices are displayed at a BP gas station in Manhattan on June 4. Across all Americans, 61 percent said gas prices would be a ‘major factor’ in making their summer vacation plans

National average gas prices have been creeping toward $5 per gallon this week

National average gas prices have been creeping toward $5 per gallon this week

The beach was the most popular planned destination at 64 percent, followed by a mountain or lake trip (44 percent), city (39 percent), national or state park (35 percent), theme park (22 percent) and cruise (9 percent).

Expedia CEO Peter Kern recently told Bloomberg that he expects the summer of 2022 ‘will be the busiest travel season ever.’

Airlines, hotels, rental car companies and booking sites all reported a surge in demand for their services in the latest batch of company earnings. 

But at the same time, many of those companies face a tight labor market and limited volume as they scramble to restart and expand operations after more than two years of depressed demand due to the pandemic.

Tripadvisor said travelers should expect inflation to impact all areas of travel purchases in 2022, and booking now versus later can mean locking in better prices.

Hilton plans to continue to reprice hotel rooms ‘every minute of the day’ to limit the impact inflation has on its business, CEO Christopher Nassetta told investors last month.

‘As demand has picked up, we have certainly been able to do that and we expect that we will continue to be able to do that,’ he said on the company’s earnings call.

Hilton’s average daily rates in the United States were 36.4 percent higher in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021. 

Average daily rates across hotel companies in the U.S. were up approximately 37.7 percent in the first quarter of 2022 when compared to the same period in 2021, according to hotel market data provider STR.

The price of flights this summer are also trending higher, according to travel search engine Skyscanner. 

Round trip flights within the U.S. will cost $302 per traveler on average, which is 3 percent higher during the same period pre-pandemic. 

Long and ultra-long-haul international flights are up to 20 percent higher than 2019, costing on average $797 and $1182 respectively.

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