Grocery store prices rose last month amid COVID-19 pandemic

Prices may be down at the pump amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but they’re up at the grocery store.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its Consumer Price Index Summary, which highlights seasonally-adjusted changes in prices for consumer goods like food, energy, shelter and gasoline month-to-month. 

According to the summary, the food index increased 1.5% in April compared to the 0.3% increase in March. The food at home index rose 2.6% in April, the BLS reported.

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Meat, poultry, fish and eggs rose the highest among all food groups with a 4.3% increase, with eggs specifically experiencing a 16.1% increase.

Cereals and bakery products rose in price 2.9% last month, the largest increase ever, the BLS noted. Nonalcoholic beverages rose 2.9%, while fruits, vegetables and dairy products increased 1.5%.

While the Price Index Summary only provides data regarding the price increases and not their causes, there are many factors that could be contributing to consumers having to spend more on food in April.

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Many grocery stores and supermarkets across the country are experiencing shortages amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with some having to limit purchases of items such as meat after some of the nation’s biggest meat processing facilities were hit hard with outbreaks of the novel coronavirus among employees. Widespread panic-buying has also been reported throughout the pandemic.

The rise in food prices does not bode well for those out of work amid COVID-19. The BLS reported that 14.7% of the current U.S. population was unemployed as of April.