MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Ways to deal with Seattle grocery store sticker shock

Mar 28, 2024, 2:11 PM | Updated: Mar 29, 2024, 7:25 am

Grocery store shopper...

Grocery store prices are beginning to flatten out after major increases since the pandemic. (AP Photo/Chris Rugaber)

(AP Photo/Chris Rugaber)

Seattle grocery store sticker shock continues to play havoc on locals, but there are ways to counter high prices.

Consumerman Herb Weisbaum told KIRO Newsradio’s Seattle’s Morning News there were legitimate reasons for steep price increases, but simple corporate greed played a role.

“The food in the supermarket is running much higher than the overall inflation rate,” Weisbaum, a contributing editor for checkbook.org, explained. “The overall inflation rate was 19%. In the last four years, grocery prices jumped 25%, way ahead of the rate.”

According to a report from the Groundwork Collaborative, a progressive Think Tank, outsized corporate profits are driving more than half of grocery inflation.

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“There were the labor shortages. During the pandemic, there were supply disruptions. We’ve had drought all across the globe, avian flu, that killed 58 million birds in this country last year. So that drove up poultry prices and egg prices,” Weisbaum explained. “And then, of course, the war in Ukraine, which affected wheat crops and also limited the global supply of fertilizer. One other factor is consumer demand for more expensive groceries. Turns out that during the pandemic, a lot of people started cooking at home and eating home more often. So they wanted more, better products to have at home higher quality products. And so that led to higher prices as well. But some suggest that corporate greed is to blame.”

The government said that grocery prices would come down again. In 2022, they were only up 1% after going up about 12% the year before. They’re predicting .04% this year.

“So things are moving in the right direction. But remember, that’s a slowdown in price increases. It’s not the prices are returning back to their pre-pandemic levels,” Weisbaum explained.

He said that hope is not lost. There are a bunch of things you can do.

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“You can make sure you use coupons and belong to the loyalty program to get the best prices you can get,” Weisbaum explained. “You can make sure you’re being charged the right price for items when you check out. I have been overcharged for at least one item the last eight times I’ve gone shopping for many things at the supermarket at a discount. The computer did not give me the discount that I was entitled to. And did I raise bloody heck with the manager of the store!”

In the Puget Sound area, checkbook.org actually had people shop for a grocery list of a whole bunch of items.

“After a 154-item list, they found that if you shop at a Grocery Outlet, Walmart, or Winco Foods, you’re going to be paying a whole lot lower prices,” he said. The clubs and warehouse clubs are also cheaper, and Trader Joe’s did very well as well.”

Weisbaum said he has a special offer MyNorthwest readers and KIRO Newsradio listeners through May 1. If you go to checkbook.org/KIROFM/food, you can get our ratings for all the supermarket chains in the Seattle area.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5-9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ways to deal with Seattle grocery store sticker shock