'It just adds up:' Ahead of busy weekend of gatherings, grocery shoppers reflect on inflation

’It just adds up: ’ Ahead of busy weekend of gatherings, grocery shoppers reflect on inflation

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Food is set to be among the centerpieces for gatherings this weekend as people celebrate Easter, Passover, Brewers tailgating and Bucks watch parties.

But those events are more expensive than last year because of inflation.

"We're doing Easter, the traditional ham," Maria Sachin of Milwaukee told CBS 58. "This year we're changing plans. No potato salad, we're doing cheesy potatoes." Sachin was among shoppers at Rupena's Fine Foods in West Allis. So were Paul and Karen Weis.

"We're going to Good Friday service tonight and then the Easter service on Sunday," Paul said. "Our son's coming over for dinner on Sunday afternoon and then they're going to the Bucks game," Karen shared.

Shopping for those events is causing people to take a second look at their wallets and budgets.

"I've been cutting back a little bit on everything, not driving as much," Sachin said.

"It seems like we're spending 40 to 60 dollars more every time we go to the grocery store," Karen Weis said. "It just adds up."

The USDA's food price outlook for 2022 found its consumer price index for food is up 7.9 percent from February 2021, the largest increase since May 1981.

"It just seems as though it's one thing after another that is just creating this pressure on prices," Steven Deller, a professor at UW-Madison, told CBS 58 in an interview.

Deller said the causes of inflation are vast and they include the impact of bird flu on the poultry industry, continued issues with supply chains -- both lingering from the pandemic and due to current political issues -- and the war in Ukraine affecting global energy prices and the cost of feed for livestock. Forecasts show prices will likely continue to increase in the coming months, but may come down by the end of the year. But feed costs may determine when shoppers can expect relief at grocery stores and supermarkets, Deller says.

"A lot of it is going to hinge on what [Ukraine's] growing season is like," Deller explained. "If we have a really good growing season, it's going to put downward pressure on these prices, if we have a poor growing season then we could be talking next year before food prices start to stabilize a little bit."

Deller added many consumers did not live through the spikes in inflation in the late 70s and 80s, and therefore have a tough time adjusting to the current economic climate.

For now, shoppers said they are hoping to enjoy the weekend with loved ones.

"Just the fellowship and being together is a big thing, and especially after the past few years, yeah, it's great to be able to gather together again," Paul Weis said.

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