Consumer Alert: Want to know why inflation is at a 41-year high? Read on!

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The price you pay for food, rent and gas is high. You know that. But Tuesday we found out just how high. The consumer price index for March is out, and it’s a whopper. Consumer prices were 8.5% higher. That’s the highest year-over-year inflation rate since 1981.

The question is, why? That’s what a viewer named Lisa wants us to talk about. Monday she sent the newsroom an email critical of a story she saw on Sunday.

She wrote, “It is so despairing to listen to a report that leaves much unsaid. This is most often the case. Your report on inflation April 10 failed to state the reasons for it. Simply put, the rise in costs are due to pandemic +OPEC +Putin +gouging.”

Well, it’s Lisa’s lucky day because going In-Fepth about pocket-book issues is what we love to do in our Consumer Alerts. One of the factors that drove up inflation in March is the price you paid at the pump. Holy Cannoli! We hit an average of almost $4.50 a gallon in Rochester before prices finally started to creep down. And petroleum experts like Patrick Dehaan at GasBuddy say it’s all about supply and demand.

During the pandemic, OPEC cut production by an unprecedented 10 million barrels a day. But when our economy came roaring back, OPEC didn’t start to increase production until July of last year which was far too late. Add the war in Ukraine and voila! That’s an equation for $4.00 gas.

But gas stations weren’t the only places where your wallet is getting walloped. It’s also at the grocery store. Economists say it costs 10% more for you to eat at home than this time last year. And you’re finding almost everything from food to furniture is higher. Economists say pandemic pricing bears part of the blame.

Let me take you back to the spring of 2020. Businesses closed, employers slashed 22 million jobs, and economic output plummeted at a perilous rate of 31%. But then the turnaround of ‘21, fueled by the vaccine rollout and those stimulus checks, the economy came roaring back faster than the fed ever expected.

And that brings us back to supply and demand. Businesses had to scramble to employ people and produce product. Ports were packed and parked, pushing prices to peaks we’ve not seen before. So when we’re in pain, we want someone to blame. Some critics blame Biden for those stimulus checks, saying they made the economy too hot, too fast. Some blame the Federal Reserve for failing to hike interest rates fast enough.

Ultimately, I say the blame game doesn’t benefit me in the least when I’m standing in the fresh meat section crying over the cost of bacon.

Here’s Deanna’s Do List to save on groceries as well as the best rebate apps for groceries.

  1. Shop on Wednesday morning.
  2. Find out when your store does meat markdowns.
  3. Tip-toe and squat. The highest-priced items are at eye level. You’ll find the cheaper generics up high and down low.
  4. Buy frozen veggies. Freezing doesn’t reduce the nutrients.
  5. Buy your staples at discount grocers.

Rebate apps: