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The Impact of Inflation

Spending will be impacted by inflation over the next few months. Some people will buy fewer things, but most will trade down to cheaper options.

By Diane Falvey
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This month’s Consumer Price Index saw inflation edge down a tiny bit — 8.5 percent for the 12 months ending in March to 8.3 percent for the 12 months ending in April. However, rising costs, thought to be triggered by COVID, continued supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine, are likely to have consumers continuing to watch their pennies a bit more closely in the coming months.

While this month’s overall numbers saw a slight decrease, the indexes for household furnishings and operations increased in April again, along with recreation and medical costs. The index for household furnishings and operations rose another half a percentage point in April after increasing 1.0 percent in March. In addition, housing and rent costs continue on an upward trajectory. The shelter index increased 0.5 percent in April, the same increase as in March. The rent index rose 0.6 percent and the owners’ equivalent rent index rose 0.5 percent. The index for lodging away from home continued to increase too, rising 1.7 percent in April after advancing 3.3 percent in March.

While these numbers continue to rise, the slight decreases in some sectors offer hope that inflation will begin to decline somewhat in the coming months.

That said, the sharp rise in prices that consumers have seen from late 2021 through now are is starting to have some impact on home furnishings purchases. Home furnishings prices rose 1.6 percent in January of this year so subsequent increases have added to overall costs. From January 2021 to January 2022, prices in the home furnishings sector were 9.3 percent higher, according to the Consumer Price Index.

While rising costs didn’t slow home improvement spending in 2021 — that spend jumped 28 percent year over year according to Angi.com — there is concern that continued increases across all sectors — particularly food and gasoline — could slow the rate that consumers are updating their homes and buying high-ticket furnishings.

While the Federal Reserve thought the recent level of inflation would be “transitory,” it is sticking around much longer than expected and it remains unclear when Americans will get relief.

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