Retail Rundown is Cheddar's check of the biggest stories impacting what we buy, how we buy, and who's selling what
As far as major holidays go, Fourth of July isn't known for breaking the bank. Usually, hot dogs, hamburgers, and a cooler full of beer will do the trick, and there are plenty of affordable options for all of those popular items. This year, however, consumers could feel more of a pinch as they stock up for parties and backyard barbecues.
A new report from Wells Fargo found that hosting a party of 10 could cost 11 percent more than last year. For context, prices across the economy are up 8.6 percent year-over-year, according to the latest consumer price index. What explains the difference between the two numbers? Karol Aure-Flynn, author of the Wells Fargo report, told Cheddar that higher meat prices are the biggest contributor to the jump.
"Proteins, and that would probably include some meat alternatives, are all in the 12 to 15 percent range, so overall food price inflation is heavily weighted to those items," she said. "It's something that consumers are going to notice and feel in their pocketbook."
As a result, she added, consumers are likely to substitute some items, such as using a more seasonal fruit in their fruit salad or choosing cheaper meat options, like pork.
Shrimp, for example, has avoided many of the supply chain issues that have driven up costs for other food products, in part because it's typically frozen, which improves its shelf-life, and it's imported from countries with lower-valued currencies.
Overall, Aure-Flynn advises consumers to plan ahead and be purposeful in their shopping, keeping an eye out for deals, seasonal items, and opportunities for creative substitutes. (One example she cited: shrimp tacos instead of hamburgers).
"I think we're going to see a lot more creativity around the Fourth of July picnics and meals," she said. "And don't forget the food isn't the main event. It's the company."
- Airbnb is making permanent its ban on “disruptive parties and events." The company first suspended the practice in 2019, after violence broke out at an Airbnb booking. Then it extended the ban during the pandemic and decided to make it permanent after the policy proved effective at limiting the irresponsible use of host homes, which sometimes led to disruptions in surrounding communities.
- Amazon is getting flack from authors who are taking issue with its e-book return policy, which they claim allows customers to "steal" from self-published authors. Leading the charge is paranormal romance author Lisa Kessler.
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- Bed Bath & Beyond CEO Mark Tritton is stepping down as part of a management shake-up aimed at reversing the retailer's slipping sales.
- Shares of Cheerios-maker General Mills popped when it signaled that it's well-positioned for this era of inflation that is causing more Americans to eat at home.
With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, a number of major companies announced policies aimed at helping their employees obtain the medical assistance they need. Amazon, for instance, said it will cover the cost for workers who are seeking an abortion in states where it is no longer legal, and Comcast-NBC Universal said it will cover travel costs of up to $4,000 per trip and up to three tips per year. Meanwhile, several pharmacies briefly limited sales of emergency contraceptive pills such as Plan B as sales spiked after the Supreme Court Ruling but then quickly lifted the purchase limits.
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The automotive industry group Edmunds forecasts new car sales to jump 5.1 percent from last quarter. That's roughly 3.5 million new cars hitting the streets, but sales are still down 20 percent from the second quarter of 2021 — in large part due to supply chain-related production cuts. “Elevated gas prices and rising interest rates only intensified the struggles faced by car shoppers amid ongoing inventory shortages in the second quarter,” said Jessica Caldwell, the executive director of insights at Edmunds, in a statement on the forecast. “The majority of consumers who are purchasing vehicles in these conditions are either in a financial position where money is less of a consideration or are doing so out of absolute necessity.”
Drivers, meanwhile, are sticking to their road trip plans, despite high gas costs. A survey from Cars.com, an online marketplace for automobiles, found that 88 percent of respondents still plan to drive to their holiday destinations. Yet more than half are cutting down on the distances they're willing to drive. This compares to 2021 when the majority of respondents said their goal was to get “as far from the house as possible.”
Erin Florio, an executive editor at Condé Nast Traveler, joined Cheddar News to discuss other ways travelers can save money this summer.