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“A lot of pain in your pocket,” How Midlands customers are adjusting to inflation

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Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 7:42 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Sticker shock is being felt across the Midlands. With inflation hitting a 40-year high, consumers are getting creative when it comes to spending.

This comes amid record-high gas prices, with the average price of a gallon of gas hitting $5 nationally for the first time ever last week. A gallon of gas in South Carolina is up more than 40 cents in the last month, according to GasBuddy, which tracks gas prices daily.

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WIS spoke with several shoppers on Monday, the majority of whom said high inflation is not stopping them from spending. However, it is changing where and how they spend, especially when it comes to groceries.

“The prices are putting a lot of crunch and a lot of pain in your pocket,” Margaret Cunningham, a Columbia resident, said.

Many, like Cunningham, are switching up their routines due to rising costs.

“I have to sacrifice to buy some of the store-brand stuff,” she said.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a dozen eggs are up a $1.20 from last year this time last year, coffee is up up $1.30 and and half gallon of ice cream costs 70 cents more.

“The eggs, they’re ridiculous,” Cunningham said. “I just stopped eating them.”

The price of gas is posing as a speed bump to Osaze Bey in his quest to find the best deals.

“You want to travel as less as possible, so you can’t drive around as much to find the prices that’s feasible for you,” he said.

Bey is also buying less organic food to save money.

While some customers are counting pennies on groceries, many are still spending on summer travel.

Despite high inflation, passenger traffic at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport is up significantly through the first quarter of this 2022 when compared to last year. Mike Gula, CAE’s Executive Director, said he expects those numbers to continue to rise throughout the summer months.

Surging gas prices were a factor in Cynthia Taylor’s decision to road trip with her family to Florida.

She said, though, that the high costs are worth it to make up for lost time during the pandemic.

“This might be my last expensive trip but we’re going to make it happen,” she said. “The cost is going to be there, but I’m more excited to get on the road, I’m more excited to travel, I’m more excited to get away from Columbia, I’m just willing to do it. Unfortunately, it’s going to hurt, it’s going to cost us. But we planned for it, thankfully, and hopefully we’ll get through it and have a great time.”

The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates this week in an effort to curb inflation.

Some economists believe this could be risky, as it could cause a potential recession if rates are raised too high or too quickly.

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