Pre-Pesach Frum Consumer Price Index Update
What kind of an impact is inflation having on the frum world?
As you might remember from a few months back, I created an index of basic consumer items, assembled prices from the website of a Lakewood supermarket, and added them all together. The totals that came out the other end represented how much the average family of six might spend weekly ($256.58) and annually ($13,342.16) on basic groceries.
Of course, those numbers have only limited value. After all, they came from just one supermarket and reflected the theoretical experiences of just one family profile. The real goal of this kind of index is in tracking how it changes over time. Well now, 77 days later, we're ready to take our second look.
The big economic story over the past months has been inflation which, by definition, has been driving prices higher. Much higher. In fact, as of March, 2022, the US annualized inflation rate was 7.9% - a rate not seen since the early '80s.
What kind of impact would an annual rate of 7.9% have had on prices between my first index sampling (January 20, 2022) and this one (April 8, 2022)? To calculate that, you simply divide the number of days in the interval (77) by the days in a full year (365) and then multiply the annual rate by that number. That'll give us an expected inflation rate for our 77-day period of around 1.6%.
How did the prices in our index actually change over that time? Shockingly, they rose by 3.6%. The big drivers were chickens (+64%) and eggs (+61%). Oddly enough, flanken went down by 38% and sugar by 28%.
Of course, that's only $9.30 per week. Ok. But it's also $483.60 a year. And for a family also struggling with housing and tuition expenses (not to mention special yom tov costs like hand shemura matza) this can be a very big deal.
I'm not suggesting we should blame the retailers. The grocery industry is famous for its razor thin profit margins and it's especially sensitive to changes in labor costs. But I am suggesting that it's a particularly good year for those of us in a position to help to do what we can to support local kimcha d'Pischa campaigns.
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