Flated

From flights to cheese, prices are still rising — and while inflation could be peaking, real relief looks distant

Thursday, May 12, 2022 by Robinhood Snacks |
The dreaded dairy aisle (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

The dreaded dairy aisle (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

April showers bring... May's expensive water bill. We're checking in on our old frenemy, inflation. Consumer prices were up 8.3% in April from a year earlier. The pace of inflation slipped a bit from March, falling for the first time in eight months — but is still close to a 40-year high. The biggest culprits were food, plane tickets, and housing. Zooming in:

  • That bites: Food prices were up over 9% from a year ago. Dairy products jumped 2.5% from March alone, the category's largest monthly price gain since 2007. Milk is up 15% from April 2021, and your omelet isn't faring much better: eggs are +10% month over month.
  • Not fly: Your summer getaway’s making you sweat before you hit the beach. Airline fares were up a whopping 33% from a year ago, and soared 19% from March alone.
  • Lost steam: Not everything got more #flated. Energy and clothing prices fell from March to April, with gas dropping 6%. Don't get too pumped — that’s still up 44% year over year.

JFK to LAX... You know it's bad when $600 looks like a sweet deal. With stimulus gone, consumers are dipping into savings to support rising spending. The Fed’s hiked rates twice so far this year to tame prices, but April's data inspires little confidence that broad inflation is cooling. And despite the hot labor market, prices are rising faster than historically high wage gains.

THE TAKEAWAY

Lower income = smaller runway… Americans with low incomes are the most sensitive to inflation because they have smaller cash reserves to meet elevated prices for necessities (think: $4.50 milk gallons and wild rent prices). While there are signs that inflation could be peaking, the real question is how long it’ll take to get back to “acceptable” levels. The longer it takes, the sooner savings will run dry.