Grocery budgets tighten as inflation continues to rise

Reporter: Andryanna Sheppard
Published: Updated:

Higher gas prices increased overall inflation to 3.7 percent in August compared to August 2022, bringing even more pain driving to the grocery store. Southwest Floridians might start seeing relief in the aisles.

Nayla Matos and Lumarie Velez are best friends. They live together, grocery shop together and encourage each other to stick to their budgets.

Nayla Matos (left) and Lumarie Velez (right) grocery shop
Nayla Matos (left) and Lumarie Velez (right) grocery shop, CREDIT: WINK News

“I go out with a list of what I actually need and then when I actually get it and I reach my budget, I’ll leave everything else on the side,” Velez said.

Their budgets, however, aren’t getting either of them as far as they used to.

“I be like, ‘that’s $50 for my cart?! That’s going to last me two to three days now,'” Matos added. “It used to last me a week. $50 used to last me a week. Not anymore.”

August 2023 'food at home'/grocery year-over-year percent change
August 2023 ‘food at home’ year-over-year percent change, CREDIT: WINK News

Hopefully, relief is on the way. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show groceries went up 3% in August compared to the year before. They went up 3.6% in July.

Southwest Florida grocery prices

WINK News Consumer Reporter Andryanna Sheppard has kept track of the same 10 items at the same three Fort Myers Target, Walmart and Publix stores for over two years. Most prices for the products on her list at all three stores stayed the same. Some went down.

Honey Nut Cheerios at Target were on sale for $2.99, a full dollar cheaper than last month. Yoplait yogurt was the cheapest Sheppard has seen at Publix in a year and a half, just $0.72 per container. Doritos at Walmart dropped $0.50 to $3.88.

Target’s Honey Nut Cheerios price tag, CREDIT: WINK News

Regardless, Matos will leave the Doritos on the shelf. They’ll push her over her grocery budget.

“I stopped buying snacks,” Matos said. “I don’t snack now. I make three meals a day. I try to stick to one carton of eggs a month because of prices. Then I try to stick to my main needs: chicken, rice, pasta. That’s the cheapest thing you’re going to get.”

The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates for the last year and a half to curb inflation. The board meets September 19-20 to decide if it’ll raise rates for the 12th time, making your credit card, student loan and car payments more expensive to pay off.

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