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Inflation has Baton Rouge consumers, stores reeling; ‘it’s just almost like a perfect storm’ | Business – New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana 2022-08-06 09:00:00 –

Thrift stores have been close to Alecia McCray’s heart since she was a teenager. But with prices on just about everything going up, McCray has found himself hitting them more often these days.

McCray, a 30-year-old florist from Baton Rouge, spent an early Friday afternoon strolling up and down the aisles of Our Hope Thrift Store on Goodwood Boulevard. She perused her clothes, trinkets, and any other treasures she could find.

McCray says he tries to keep his weekly expenses in mind. Going to her recycling shop helps her in her mission.

“Buying things at a retail store today is like throwing money away,” says McCray.

With prices looking like they won’t stop rising, Baton Rouge residents like McRae are stocking up on the cheapest options possible. They also rely more on their network of local charities. They say they face their own problems as demand for their services continues to grow.

“Obviously, the course of the pandemic has kept us busy, but in the last two months we have numbers that we haven’t seen in quite some time. .

thrifty era

Known for offering vintage selections at a fraction of the original price, thrift stores are an easy first stop for customers looking to save cash.

Mary Alexander, 56, who works for UPS, says she spends more time at thrift stores than usual.

“I always check here before I go to Amazon or pay at a retail store,” she said. “You’re likely to find it at a thrift store.”

Alexander said he checks as many stores as possible, especially for meat and vegetable sales.

“I’m not rich,” she joked. Please do.”

Our Hope Thrift and Donation Center manager Chiquania Gallow said the Goodwood Boulevard store has seen a “definite” increase in customer traffic since March. Gas prices first hit the roof.

“I’ve had customers say, ‘I don’t want to go to the mall.’ I want to save even a little,” he said.

Thrift shops aren’t the only businesses growing. According to, a retail analyst who specializes in monitoring customer traffic, stores like Dollar Tree and Family Dollar saw a 19.5% increase in weekly footfall in the second quarter compared to 2021. did.

This increase may be due to discount stores trying to expand, but it may also be because people are changing their habits because of the high prices. are switching to cheaper alternatives, with 41% buying at least some of their essentials at discount stores to offset costs.

Invoice trouble

rising gas and grocery prices According to St. Vincent de Paul’s Accardo, many people are forced into collective groups known as ALICE in the sense that they have limited assets and limited income but are employed. I’m here.

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Demand for St. Vincent de Paul’s services, such as shelter and meals, is growing, but the charity has received “a great number of calls in the last few months asking for help with rent and utility bills.” ”said Acaldo.

“In my 33 years in St. Vincent, I have never seen things match up compared to the currently very high rents. high utility billsas well as increased costs high temperaturesaid Acardo. “It seems like the perfect storm. I’m sure some people are really struggling to pay all their bills right now.”

Acardo also noted that the stock market turmoil has resulted in the loss of wealth that could otherwise have been donated to charity.

“Donations are being made, but people are probably not in a position to donate that much,” he said. “It also affects our ability to respond. The way we do it is to do the best we can and be very good stewards of the support that the community has blessed us with.”

Similar to St. Vincent de Paul, the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank’s customer numbers have increased by about 10 percent this year, said president and CEO Mike Manning.

“We see a lot of working poor who need to either use gasoline to get to work or choose the food on the table,” Manning said. “In addition to food and fuel prices, rising utility bills are another problem, especially for the elderly. How can they afford it as it rises to

The organization’s food and fuel costs have also skyrocketed, with an estimated 67% increase in diesel costs over the past few months, Manning said. “Everything went up,” he said.

As a result, food banks have revamped their strategies. We’ve redesigned our delivery routes to use less diesel and order food months in advance to avoid cancellations.

“We had to redesign what and how we were doing,” he said. “Our utility bills are significantly higher than they were in past summers.”

Inflation easing is not expected soon

A further concern, Manning said, is how long inflation will last, which could affect donations in the fall and winter. tend to increase over time.

“I don’t know what it looks like,” he said. “I’m really worried about going into that (season) because of inflation and the recession.”

Gary Wagner, an Acadiana business economist at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, said he doesn’t expect the easing of inflation to end anytime soon. The only way to control inflation is to reduce the money supply, and the Federal Reserve is trying to do that by raising interest rates.

Stubbornly low interest rates and direct payments to Americans at the height of COVID-19 have resulted in an overinflated economy. He said.

He said it could take years for things to stabilize.

“I think there’s probably a 50% chance we’re already in a recession,” Wagner said. “I think there’s a good chance we’re going into a nationwide recession later this year. I think there are too many economic indicators that have deteriorated too quickly in the last few months,” he said.

Advocacy Contributing Writer Stephen Marcantel contributed to this report

Inflation has Baton Rouge consumers, stores reeling; ‘it’s just almost like a perfect storm’ | Business Source link Inflation has Baton Rouge consumers, stores reeling; ‘it’s just almost like a perfect storm’ | Business

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