WASHINGTON - Prices are rising. Shoppers are worried. Economists – not so much.
You may have noticed your wallet looking a little slimmer these days. Prices are on the rise, and it is hitting some pockets harder than others.
Wednesday morning, Iossif Gressis, who owns Lucianna’s Steakhouse in Waldorf, Charles County took to Facebook, live-streaming a walkthrough of himself moving through what Gressis said was a Food Depot. "Prices have gone through the roof and I would say probably almost double the price on a lot of things," warned Gressis, who also said in the video the crab legs that were around $120-a-case some three weeks ago are around $225-a-case.
When we spoke to the restaurateur later in the day, Gressis mentioned a concern over how some businesses may try to take advantage with costs so high.
Gressis added, "The biggest concern is how is the customer going to take it when we actually turn around and raise the prices on them so we can turn a profit. Because, we cannot run a restaurant and not restaurant and not make a profit. Like, we have employees to pay. We have electric, we have bills."
The general manager of Rodman’s Food and Drug in Tenley Town also told FOX 5 they are seeing prices increase, partly because of shipping delays on imported goods.
"We’re going to try and, you know, not pass on every rising cost to the consumer. I think across every part of the supply chain, everyone’s going to take a little bit of a hit on the margin," said Rodman’s General Manager, Nolan Rodman.
There are a number of reasons for the different price increases. However, overall, both a Virginia Tech and George Washington University economists told FOX 5 the rise in prices is not such a bad thing.
Over the phone, David Bieri, an Professor of Economics at Virginia Tech, described this as "like having a well-greased engine." He also noted how inflation is not more than 2%, which is good. The Biden Administration, pumping stimulus money into the economy, does still have to keep an eye on rates raising too quickly, too fast.
Some online are commenting on how prices online were down under former President Donald Trump and now rising under President Joe Biden. FOX 5 asked Dr. Joann Weiner of George Washington University what is happening here and how she would answer those comments?
"It’s sort of funny to blame economics on the current holder of the oval office because the economy does what’s it’s going to do, regardless, for the most part, regardless of whoever is there. There’s no need to remind everyone, that last year, the economy put the brakes on. Completely," said Dr. Weiner, GWU’s Director, Master of Arts in Applied Economics and Associate Professor of Economics.
Weiner noted how last year, many people stopped vacationing or when they did start to travel, many still were not driving around as much. "…so it’s no surprise that prices were down. And of course, once demands comes back. Prices will rise, so nothing unusual there," Dr. Weiner added.
Mohan Enjati told FOX 5 he has noticed a difference on the supermarkets shelves. "My wife and I, we go grocery shopping together pretty much every Friday and it’s gotten to the point where we’re almost have to compare prices from venue to venue," said Enjati.
"I think that the stressors from the pandemic along with the prices, I think is going to lead to a lot of panic and that concerns me," said Dr. Tracye Herndon, before heading into Rodman’s.
Herndon told FOX 5 she paid $3.69 at a Connecticut Ave. NW gas station recently, but only put in a few gallons – enough to reach a Costco, where Herndon could use her Costco customer gas discount.
Gas is the other area were most have noticed a recent increase. AAA’s team is also telling drivers to expect some more increases as we move closer to the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
AAA said Wednesday’s national gas average is: $2.927 ($2.93 rounding-up). FOX 5 found $2.79 in McLean. Looking at the "Gas Buddy" app around our Tenley Town newsroom, the lowest price was $2.78. Many of the stations were over $3.00, with $3.19 the highest.
Dr. Weiner told FOX 5 a good comparison is to look at 2019 prices. A May 6th 2019 AAA article actually noted the national gas price average then was $2.89, which is not that far off from where we are now.
Economists also say the recent rise in prices could also be temporary.