We're seeing prices spike at a rate we haven't seen since the 1980s all because of inflation. There is no indication that will change any time soon, so the ABC15 Smart Shopper team spoke to Kristin McGrath, editor of The Real Deal blog by RetailMeNot.com. She said that there are some small things consumers can do to save them big when shopping right now.
"Yeah, it's really hard, or next to impossible, to sidestep inflation these days. The consumer price index is tracking higher than it has in literal decades. And everything's more expensive, from everyday essentials to, like, those big-ticket items that you might have been waiting to splurge on," McGrath said of the current retail landscape.
McGrath recommends people wait to buy those big-ticket items until there's a sale. While inflation is really impacting everything, there are some items that you can expect to see sold at higher prices. Being aware of that can help you adjust your budget.
"A lot of meat and poultry, fish. I mean, when you look at the price tag at the grocery store, you're probably going to be a little bit surprised. if you haven't been already at how much that costs. And then, of course, there's consumer electronics — the retail industry is still reeling from the chip shortage. So, there's all kinds of bottlenecks there... limiting supply," McGrath explained. "And we're still spending a lot of time at home wanting to upgrade things, buy things for our home. So that demand is up too and that's just pushing the price of those things higher and higher."
So, how can you navigate this hard financial time and still stay within your budget? McGrath offered us some tips:
Have patience and wait.
"No one likes to hear it: if you don't need that item, and it's more than you'd like to pay, you might just have to wait," McGrath said. "We've, I think, been very spoiled by instant gratification, everything from fast shipping to frequent sales, to cut prices on so many of those things we want. And, right now, it's just really difficult to get those things and you shouldn't necessarily expect it."
Lean into rewards and loyalty programs at your favorite retailers.
"So, you know, that first trip to the store, you might pay more than you like, but then you've earned some rewards that you can use on a future purchase. So maybe that next purchase costs a little bit less because you earn some rewards," McGrath told us. She suggested signing up for emails and apps at the places you shop at most.
Look for gift card rewards for the things you need.
"Target is a big one for this," explained McGrath. "If you look through the weekly ad, a lot of those are essential items: from dog food to diapers to cleaning products to vitamins. When you buy those things, you get a small gift card, maybe $5 or $10 with a certain purchase. The key is making sure those are things you actually need and that you're actually going to use if you stock up on them. Then, if you take advantage, you've got some money to spend on your next shopping trip via that gift card."
Look for cash-back offers.
"If you just can't find an item on sale, and you've searched high and low. And you cannot find a coupon for that item or the retailer's rewards program is not as strong as you'd like. Cashback Offers are fantastic... these Cashback Offers, they vary in amounts of percent back, anything from 1% back to even higher like 5%," McGrath mentioned.
Always look for a promo code or coupon.
"Even if there's a free shipping code, and that free shipping might not be fast anymore, it might not be that free two-day shipping necessarily. But if you can save yourself that $5 to $10 shipping charge with a free shipping offer, that's you know that goes a long way to chipping down tipping that price away just a little bit," McGrath noted.
The main thing to remember, McGrath told us, is that this problem won't go away any time soon. Most experts say supply chain issues and inflation increases could extend into 2023.
"It takes a lot of these supply chain shortages and issues a lot of time to course-correct," McGrath explained. "So yeah, if you if you're thinking of waiting on inflation, you're not going to be shopping for a while."
Kristin McGrath is the Editor of The Real Deal blog by RetailMeNot.com. See her other articles here.