Consumers are feeling the effects of inflation, as well they might, but they're also distinguishing the degree to which price rises in different product and service categories are affecting them.
In a new Gallup poll, nearly all the respondents (97 percent) said the cost they pay for gasoline has "gone up a lot" since the beginning of the year. More than half said the same about dairy products (60 percent), vacations/other leisure travel (54 percent), produce (51 percent) and household utilities (51 percent). Somewhat fewer said they're paying a lot more for healthcare (49 percent) or meat (41 percent). Twenty-seven percent said the amount they pay for restaurant meals has gone up a lot since the start of the year; 18 percent said the same of clothing and of "services such as haircuts, dry cleaning or landscaping." Electronics must seem like a bargain, relatively speaking, as just 14 percent said the cost they've been paying in that category has gone up a lot.
As if the respondents didn't feel bad enough in disclosing all these added costs, the poll also asked them whether they think gas prices in their local area will rise or fall between now and the end of the year. A grand total of zero percent said they expect prices to "decrease a lot," and a mere 5 percent expect them to "decrease a little." Six percent think they'll "stay about the same." Thirty-five percent anticipate prices will "increase a little," and 52 percent expect they'll "increase a lot." On the plus side, this means a lot of consumers will be pleasantly surprised if gas prices somehow fail to rise a lot by year's end.