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It’s basic supply and demand: When nobody’s buying something, the price drops. When everyone wants it and availability is low, the price goes up.
In a time of coronavirus, layoffs, and recession, you’re paying different prices than you used to.
Have grocery prices increased? Is milk cheaper? Here are 5 things you’re paying more for now, and 4 things you’re paying less for during the coronavirus outbreak:
Beef prices are rising.
Beef industry watcher Beef2live.com says beef markets have “endured enormous upheaval” since mid-March. A surge in demand for beef in retail grocery stores created “dramatic and immediate spikes” in wholesale beef prices.
The price of a hundredweight of beef went from a $207.04 average from March 2 – 11 all the way up to $257.32 on March 23 — a 24% increase. The price dropped to $230.44 by April 3, still 11.3% higher than a month earlier.
As farmers shift their supply from food service to grocery retail, prices could drop dramatically soon. But for now, you’re paying more.
Milk prices are dropping.
Americans were seeing milk prices dip even before the coronavirus, but now with schools and businesses not buying milk, there’s a glut of supply out there. Milk prices have dropped more than 30% since January, with an average price of $1.99/gallon. A year ago, it was $0.75 more expensive (+37.5%).
Some areas, however, have seen price increases associated with shortages in supermarkets. Analysts say the price of milk will continue to drop into mid- to late 2020.
The price of eggs is rising.
Panic-buying saw stores selling out of eggs, and although farmers are destroying record numbers of eggs, stores are still limiting egg sales and having a hard time keeping them on shelves. The egg shortage has driven up prices in supermarkets.
The New York Post reported that “Midwest large” eggs hit an all-time high of $3.09 per dozen on March 27. The Los Angeles Times said that California shell eggs rose from $1.55 per dozen on March 2, to $3.66 on March 27.
Gas prices are falling.
Energy prices have taken a hit during coronavirus, and drivers are seeing the savings at the pump. Already-low prices because of Mideast oil disputes got even lower as drivers heeded stay-at-home orders.
The average price of gas is $1.862 as of April 13 — that’s down 6.7 cents in a week, and nearly a dollar down from a year ago ($2.823).
Want to save even more? Check out 12 Tweaks to Make the Gas Pump Less Painful.
Peanut butter prices are rising.
24/7 Wall St analyzed Bureau of Labor Statistics data and found that peanut butter has seen a steep price increase — 4.16% from January to February.
The jump is more than 15 times the average price increase of all consumer goods and services during that same time period. That increase is only expected to be greater for February to March (although data hasn’t yet been published).
Sporting goods prices are falling.
As sports leagues big and small are on hiatus, and even games of pickup ball aren’t happening due to social distancing, the price of sporting goods has plummeted.
Prices of sports gear dropped 2% on average from February to March. According to Reuters, that matches the previous record price drop from November 1982.
But sporting goods stores like Dick’s, REI and Big5 and some big-box retailers are holding massive online sales, discounting hundreds of items.
Alcohol prices are rising.
Liquor stores, as well as stores that sell alcohol have seen panic-buying in recent weeks, leaving store shelves bare for some products in some places. As people have stocked up on their home spirits, prices have risen. Reuters reports that wine prices have jumped 0.9% in the last month — the most since 2014, and beer has become 0.8% more expensive over the last 30 days (and 2.4% more expensive in the last three months — the biggest increase since late 2008).
Car prices are falling — rapidly.
That’s because car buying is way down. KBB.com says that the normal month-end push to meet quotas and move cars is only more intensified by the fact that fewer people are buying cars, so “they will go to extremes to make you a deal.” Car manufacturers are also rolling out a ton of incentives to encourage you to buy, like 0% financing.
JD Power expects April retail auto sales to drop 65 – 80%. The glut in supply has turned into price cuts, with more to come.
Some of these may not make sense while we’re all social distancing, but check out our 16 Car Buying Tips & Tricks to Outsmart the Dealerships.
Toilet paper and paper towels prices are rising.
I know, big surprise, right? And I’m not even talking about the third-party sellers who are price gouging right now.
A look at Amazon price tracker CamelCamelCamel shows that prices for toilet paper and paper towels have, for the most part, increased over the last several months. In some cases, the products sold out weeks ago. Here are some examples:
- 27 rolls of Scott 1000 toilet paper: $18.00 on March 1, $18.86 on March 13 (up 4.8%)
- 2 rolls of Brawny Smart Flex paper towels: $8.25 on Feb. 21, $8.66 on April 11 (up 5%)
- 4 packs of 12-count Seventh Generation Unbleached Bathroom Tissue rolls: $40.25 on March 13, $43.89 on April 13 (up 9%)
- 36 rolls of Compact Coreless 2-Ply Recycled Toilet Paper by GP PRO: $52.27 on Feb. 12, $61.69 on March 14 (up 18%)
At KCL, we’re constantly monitoring toilet paper deals, as well as inventory. We’re finding that toilet paper manufacturers aren’t running deals so much as they’re just selling their products at retail price to an eager customer base.