Ease in April CPI Does Little for Food Shoppers

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“Rising prices will continue to impact all businesses for the foreseeable future,” according to Greg Petro, CEO at Pittsburgh-based First Insight, which last week released the “State of Consumer Spending: Inflation Impacting Consumer Confidence” report. “This data indicates that many industries, which had hoped for a post-pandemic rebound in 2022, specifically hospitality, travel, and entertainment, may be faced with yet another difficult year. Furthermore, categories that saw an increase in spending during the pandemic — such as jewelry, automotive, premium groceries, and apparel — will most likely see a contraction in consumer spending for the next several months. Companies must work to get an immediate understanding of how consumers are going to change in the days and weeks ahead by engaging with them directly to anticipate and respond.”

A smaller increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for April provided little relief for grocery shoppers, who continue to alter their buying habits as they grapple with high food prices.

This week, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the CPI for All Urban Consumers edged up 0.3% (seasonally adjusted) month to month in April, down from a 1.2% uptick in March and the lowest increase so far in 2022. Still, the CPI rose 8.3% (unadjusted) for the 12 months through April, down only slightly from 8.5% in March, 7.9% in February, and 7.5% in January.

For April, the food CPI — including food-at-home and food-away-from-home — was up 9.4% year over year and 0.9% month over month, following respective increases of 8.8% and 1% in March, 7.9% and 1% in February, and 7% and 0.9% in January.

April’s food-at-home index climbed 10.8% year over year, topping the 10% gain in March, which marked the largest 12-month uptick since March 1981, according to BLS. That came after increases of 8.6% in February — which BLS said represented the biggest 12-month rise since April 1981 — and 7.4% in January.

Monthly increases in the food-at-home index have remained sharp so far in 2022, rising 0.9% in April after gains of 1.5% in March, 1.4% in February and 1% in January, which followed just a 0.4% uptick in December.

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