Inflation is forcing Americans to make big changes to their buying and spending habits, and the majority expect price increases to get worse next year, according to a new poll.
The latest US consumer price data is due out on Friday and is expected to show annual inflation remained near a 40-year high at 8.2% in May – down slightly from the month previous but still four times higher than pre-pandemic levels.
From groceries to the gas pump, rising prices have been unavoidable for most Americans and are taking a toll, especially on working-class families who spend so much of their wages on basic necessities.
In a new Washington Post-Schar School poll conducted in April and May, 87% of Americans said recent price increases had been a financial stress on their household.
The same proportion said they made more effort to find the cheapest prices for the products they buy, while 77% said they reduced their spending on dining or entertainment.
Inflation is forcing Americans to make big changes to their buying and spending habits, and the majority expect price increases to get worse next year
Shoppers are seen at a grocery store in San Francisco last month. Survey finds 87% of Americans are trying harder to hunt for bargains due to inflation
The poll found that 66% of respondents expect inflation to worsen next year, while only 21% expect an improvement and 12% expect no change.
Seventy-seven percent of Americans said they were financially behind or had just enough to maintain their standard of living
In particular, soaring gasoline and food prices have hit low-income Americans the hardest, and even many middle-class families have been forced to change their consumption habits.
Inflation data from April showed food prices rose 10.8% over the past year, the biggest such annual increase since 1980. Out-of-home food rose by 7.2% compared to a year ago.
On Thursday, national average gasoline prices hit a new record high of $4.97 a gallon, a 62% increase from prices at the pump a year ago. Twenty US states now average more than $5 a gallon.
Gas and electric bills now make up about 34% of the lowest-paying consumer’s monthly budgets, up from 31% last year, according to the National Energy Assistance Directors Association.
“The cost of energy is becoming unaffordable,” NEADA executive director Mark Wolfe told Bloomberg.
“We could have serious difficulties in this country,” Wolfe said. The budgets of “families” are reduced. It’s like they’re being taxed, and there’s no end in sight.
Inflation and soaring gas prices have become a major political threat to President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats ahead of the midterm elections.
But at least among those who responded to the Post poll, many seem to agree with messages from the Biden administration blaming corporations and Vladimir Putin for rising energy costs.
The new Washington Post poll found that 58% blame Biden as a “good” or a “good deal” for the recent gas price hike, while 72% blame corporate greed and 69% blame Russia.
Most Americans are still planning to take a summer vacation, but 61% say gas prices will be a ‘major factor’
After two years of widespread pandemic disruption, the vast majority of Americans say they plan to take at least a vacation away from home this summer.
The new poll found that 72% of Americans said they would definitely or probably take a vacation away from home this summer.
Of those planning to take a vacation, 77% said they planned to travel by car during one or more of their summer vacations, while 50% planned to fly at least once.
Of all Americans, 61% said gas prices would be a “major factor” in shaping their summer vacation plans, while 52% said the same about flight prices.
Industry experts predict the 2022 summer travel season will still be one of the busiest on record – but higher costs could force some families to adjust their plans, perhaps scheduling shorter trips .
The new Post-Schar poll found that among those planning a vacation this summer, 78% planned to travel to the United States, 7% said they would travel outside the country and 16% had planned both types. of travel.
Gasoline prices are displayed at a BP gas station in Manhattan on June 4. Of all Americans, 61% said gas prices would be a “major factor” in planning their summer vacation
National average gasoline prices climbed toward $5 a gallon this week
The beach was the most popular planned destination at 64%, followed by a trip to the mountains or a lake (44%), a city (39%), a national or state park (35%), a theme (22%) and a cruise (9%). ).
Expedia CEO Peter Kern recently told Bloomberg that he expects the summer of 2022 “to be the busiest travel season ever.”
Airlines, hotels, car rental companies and booking sites have all reported increased demand for their services in the latest batch of corporate earnings.
But at the same time, many of these companies are facing a tight labor market and limited volume as they scramble to restart and expand operations after more than two years of depressed demand due to the pandemic.
Tripadvisor said travelers should expect inflation to impact all areas of travel purchases in 2022, and booking now rather than later can mean getting better prices.
Hilton plans to continue repricing hotel rooms “every minute of the day” to limit the impact of inflation on its business, CEO Christopher Nassetta told investors last month.
“As demand has picked up, we have certainly been able to do that and hopefully we will continue to be able to do that,” he said on the company’s earnings call.
Hilton’s average daily rates in the United States were 36.4% higher in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.
Average daily rates for hotel companies in the United States rose about 37.7% in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021, according to hotel market data provider STR.
The price of flights this summer is also trending higher, according to travel search engine Skyscanner.
Round-trip flights to the United States will cost an average of $302 per traveler, or 3% more over the same pre-pandemic period.
Long-haul and ultra-long-haul international flights are up to 20% higher than in 2019, costing an average of $797 and $1,182 respectively.