Inflation woes mean added expenses for holiday shoppers

Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 5:23 PM EST
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WILLISTON, Vt. (WCAX) - You’ve probably noticed some consumer products are more expensive right now. Consumer prices increased 6.8% from November 2020 to November 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This increase is the largest annual jump the country has seen in nearly 40 years.

I checked in with Vermonters holiday shopping at Walmart to find out how inflation is affecting them.

“That’s the saddest part. I’m disabled and I had to get another job,” said Chad Spencer of Barre.

Spencer says his disability check isn’t cutting it this time of year, so he had to find work at Hallmark to help him through the holiday season.

He says inflation is to blame.

“I have 13 nephews and nieces, so I have to limit what I have to spend because the prices are going up,” Spencer said.

He’s not the only one feeling the burden of rising prices.

“I’ve had only eight hours of work in the last eight weeks,” said Bernie Duncan of Jericho.

Duncan, who is a drywall sander, says he’s bargain hunting this holiday season.

“I’m spending less, looking for deals. That’s why I come to Walmart and places like that,” Duncan said.

“It’s definitely thinning things out, to say the least, and I believe I could speak for a lot of people in that aspect,” said Chandler Adams of Burlington.

Adams says he’s managing holiday shopping on top of regular expenses.

“Make sure that the holidays are taken care of but also looking into the future as far as inflation goes, there’s no end in sight and you have to look ahead to the next day as well as today,” Adams said.

Erin Sigrist of the Vermont Retail & Grocers Association says even chain stores are falling victim to inflation.

“The inflation is across the board. It’s not big box stores, it’s not just large grocery stores-- it’s across the board,” Sigrist said.

She says this inflation jump can be attributed to the pandemic changing people’s spending habits and the back and forth between stores closing and opening again.

“The entire system had to catch up to consumer demand,” Sigrist said.

She adds inflation can add a unique challenge for holiday shopping right now.

“Especially this close to the holiday, I think there are fewer products on the shelf. It’s forcing us to be more creative in what we buy, how we buy it and where we get it,” Sigrist said.

She says low-income Vermonters are likely seeing a greater impact and notes that local businesses have been trying to help ease this burden.

“If you’re shopping with your local retailer or your local grocer, I know that several of those businesses have been doing their best to keep in touch with their customers to make sure that they have access to the products they may need,” Sigrist said.

Sigrist says it’s too early to know exactly, but based on what she’s seeing at the federal level, they won’t be coming down anytime soon.

Related Story:

Inflation squeezes holiday budgets for low-income shoppers

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