It’s been a year of wild inflation, the best news being that for a brief moment – July — the prices of typical consumer goods have not increased. Then they started to rise again in August, albeit at the slowest rate of the whole year.
Maybe it’s a silver lining that things are turning around…and maybe not. But some price increases are likely to accompany us for a while.
If you’ve read about inflation in the past few months, you’ve probably heard of the Consumer Price Index — this is how the federal government measures the overall inflation rate for goods and services. that we buy. The less discussed is the more specific which measures inflation among items for which prices tend to “hold” or change more slowly.
Items in the sticky category tend to be those where frequent price changes would be too costly to pursue. Companies therefore tend to guess what inflation will look like and assess things in the medium to long term instead of adapting quickly to economic conditions, experts say. Haircuts and coin-operated laundry services are examples of “sticky” things.
Here’s a look at several sticky things that are unlikely to get cheaper anytime soon, even when the overall inflationary trend reverses.
This category includes drinks that people consume in bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as those taken home. Beer, beer, wine and spirits such as whiskey are all part of the measurement.
From August 2021 to August 2022, there was a 4.3% price increase, well below the 13.4% change in soft drinks.
Stationery and gift wrapping
This category covers many paper items such as notebooks, index cards, greeting cards and envelopes. It also includes some office supplies like tape, staples, and glue.
For the year, this bundle of goods saw a price increase of 9.3%.
It may look like buses – which the category includes – but it’s also airline tickets, passenger ferries, commuter and light rail, subways, carpools (but not limos) and others . This category grew 21.1% over the past year, but fell 6.3% from July to August.
One of the reasons why this category may seem less sticky than usual is the dramatic and record change in gasoline prices, which increased by about 50% in the first half of 2022.
This category is technically called “food outside the home” and includes not only restaurant food, but also catered events and the “board” portion of room and board.
This category grew by 8% over the past year, less than the 13.5% we’ve seen in the “food at home” category over this period.
Medical care services
This broad category is broken down into two sub-categories: “medical services” and “hospital services”. It includes most doctors in office, but excludes dentists, ophthalmologists and others who provide health care services but do not have an MD.
Medical care services as a whole rose 5.6% year over year.
Water, sewer and garbage collection services
These residential services have collectively increased by 4.6% since last August. However, there is a lot you can do to lower your water bill.
Motor vehicle expenses
As you might guess, this includes the fees you pay to the DMV, tolls, and parking fees. It does not include car insurance, maintenance or repairs.
Since last August, this category has only increased by 2.4%.
Haircuts and other personal care services
The “other” personal care services category includes tanning salons, coloring, manicures and other spa services. It does not include products that you might purchase from one of these places, only services. This category could use a topping – it’s up 4.4% since August 2021.
Miscellaneous professional services
This mishmash category covers legal, funeral, banking, accounting and even dry cleaning services.
On average together, these are up 6.7% for the year. But laundry and dry cleaning services were up 7.9%, in case you were wondering.