Four Things Inflation Ruined in 2022 (And a Few it Didn’t)

TheStreet has put together this list of things, services and activities that were hit hard by inflation in 2022.

If there’s a word that we have been hearing a lot this year, it’s inflation. We read about it in news headlines and spent months listening to politicians blame those who do not share their politics for rising prices.

But above all else, we feel it whenever we have to open up our wallets and pay for something. After rising to new heights for more than a year, any dip to the consumer price index is hardly a relief as months of rising prices start to make themselves known in everything from food to electronics and car prices.

TheStreet has put together this list of things, services and activities that were hit hard by inflation in 2022.  Don’t take the word “ruined” too literally. It hasn’t been the easiest financial year and at some point all we can do is laugh in commiseration over just how expensive certain items have gotten.


Eating Out (Or, For That Matter, Eating In)

Few things were hit quite as hard by inflation as food prices. At one point, the cost of basic staples like eggs and chicken was up by over 30% compared to 2021. In August, a gallon of milk at Walmart  (WMT) – Get Free Report was over 150% more expensive than the previous year.

While prices for individual products can soar and then even out, the consumer price index indicates that food overall is still 15.7% more expensive than in November 2021.

Such increases are affecting all income brackets as some cut out on eating out altogether while those with higher incomes opt for less expensive restaurants than in the past. While overall restaurant visits fell between 7.6% and 13.7% in August, McDonald’s  (MCD) – Get Free Report and Chipotle  (CMG) – Get Free Report traffic rose by a respective 4.7% and 3.1%.

Going Places

It’s always cheaper to stay home but, this year, more and more people are doing so out of necessity. Deloitte’s annual holiday travel survey found that 42% took some kind of trip between Thanksgiving and mid-January in 2021. This year, that number is predicted to drop to 31%.

Adobe  (ADBE) – Get Free Report numbers found that, between the start of 2022 in January and the summer, domestic flight prices rose by more than 47%. While that number drops during less popular travel periods, prices are soaring fast again just in time for the holidays.

Old Car? New Car? It’ll Still Be Expensive

The aftershock of the pandemic and a global semiconductor shortage caused a major bottleneck in new car production. In 2022, global carmarkers produced 8 million fewer cars than planned.

While new prices are also not getting any cheaper, many needing a vehicle fast have turned toward the used market as a way of avoiding the months-long waiting lists that now often come for many new models. 

As a result, prices for lightly-used cars have sometimes soared to absurd levels. In the spring, vehicle search-engine iSeeCars calculated that while the retail price of a Mercedes-Benz G-Class starts at $131,750, people on the site were buying lightly-used versions for almost $200,000 although prices dipped somewhat by the fall.

Utility Bills Are Even Less Fun Than Before

Utility bills are not fun in the best of times, but inflation in general and the war in Ukraine have sent the costs of energy spiking. The CPI shows that the cost of electricity rose by 14.1% from 2021 while utility gas prices are up 20%.

“For the time being, nearly everyone in the United States can expect to pay significantly more on their heating and energy bills this winter, which we can partly attribute to the sweltering summer we just had,” Carol Horton, CMO of construction company KIndred Homes, said this fall.

But It’s Not All Bad News; Some Industries Are Immune

While individual companies always come out on top during difficult circumstances, entire sectors of the economy have proven at least partially immune to inflation.

Healthcare costs as well as costs of gym membership and other fitness-related products are not seeing the rapid price increases of other sectors. For those who like their merlot, wine has also not been hit as hard as food and other beverages — around 5% compared to the double-digits seen for overall food costs.

Gas prices are another interesting one. In the spring, they hit a peak of over $5 per gallon across the country. While this caused much panic among drivers, prices are now at $3.315 per gallon as of Dec. 9. — nearly the same as the $3.338 seen a year ago.

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