What's causing bigger grocery bills? Economists debate causes, length of inflation

Posted July 27, 2021 6:57 a.m. EDT
Updated July 27, 2021 9:25 a.m. EDT

— Take a closer look at your next grocery store receipt. Prices are going up.

From beef to paper towels, everyday household goods simply cost more. Economists differ on when prices will get better.

A trip to the grocery store is where most shoppers discover that inflation is back. Shopper Caroline said, "I’ve had to start looking for coupons and I had to start shopping smarter."

Shopper Mychal said, "You got to switch-up and get something you wouldn’t normally get because it’s cheaper."

While families adjust their budgets, experts debate about the main cause and how long it may impact the economy. Some blame the pandemic for slowing down delivery of goods to consumers.

"And when there is a shortage of product, you see prices go up," said Michael Walden, PhD, a retired NC State University economist and professor emeritus.

He says getting the supply chain back to speed could spur a drop in prices sooner. Others experts argue it could last longer due to the government pumping $6 trillion dollars into the economy during the pandemic.

Walden said a lot of people saved that money and now want to spend it.

"The folks that put their emphasis on that say, look, this is not short run. Get ready for higher inflation rates, 5%, maybe 6% for at least a couple of years," said Walden.

Grocery shoppers on a budget hope that’s not the case. Shopper Caroline said, "I’m just kind of hoping that things begin to level out a bit."

Walden’s advice is not to panic. He does believe that household supplies will be coming back at an increasing rate and hopefully lower prices sooner rather than later.

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