As inflation rate declines, consumers wait for groceries and gas to follow

Statistics Canada says inflation dropped for the month of March by nearly one per cent, but sky-high prices for food and fuel still persist, with the price of gas set to rise again on Wednesday.

The inflation rate dropped to 4.3 per cent in March, the lowest since August 2021, but there’s no price relief at the grocery store or at the gas pumps.

“It’s much higher than it used to be, and I find it’s every week,” said Taciana Silva in front of the Real Canadian Superstore in Brockville, Ont.

“You definitely notice it at the end of the month,” added resident Ted Livingston.

Grocery prices are up 9.7 per cent in March compared to this time in 2022. Items with the biggest price jump include apples, flour and pasta, with an increase of more than 14 per cent.

For Silva, it means a $50 hike in her normal grocery bill.

“You have to think about what you’re going to eat right? Certain things you don’t buy anymore because they are too expensive,” she said.

“When they put the stuff on sale, that’s what really strikes me. Like how come some weeks they can sell a little container of blueberries for $1.88 and then the next week it’s $3.88? It’s two dollars!” she continued.

“What kind of a deal did they get to be able to give us that low price if it’s usually $3.88? So I think are just inflating the price.”

Silva says she shops at multiple grocers, and uses price-matching and weekly flyers to help lower her bills.

“I spend like two hours before going on the flyers, saying what am I going to buy?” she said. “I create my meals around the sales.”

All this, while Canadian grocers continue to appear before a parliamentary committee studying food inflation.

Like Costco Monday evening, who say they have not increased profit amid inflation.

“We are about sales, so when you ask a question about profit and margin, we’re about sales,” said Pierre Riel, Executive VP & COO. “The more we sell, the better the customer is going to pay for goods, the better the member will be satisfied with us and that’s our mantra.”

At the gas pumps near the Superstore, there was a rush of traffic Tuesday, with the price of gas on the rise.

“I don’t like that idea at all. They shouldn’t be going up,” quipped Howard Sayeau when told of the increase.

An eight-cent per litre hike is expected on Wednesday, as companies make the switch to summer blends.

“I try not to look at the price too much,” said Livingston. “I get too depressed. But I need it anyways; the price is what it is.”

“I can’t even imagine having to fill up a pickup or something, it’s a bit scary,” said Alex Philippi, who just put $45 of fuel in his Mini, which didn’t fill the tank.

“I’m not quite sure what to say. I’m going with the flow for the most part it seems,” he added. “We’ve all had to make adjustments here and there, whether it’s because of gas prices or food prices, all sorts of things. One day at a time.”

Philippi and Silva both noted that those with less income or living on a tight budget would suffer more.

“It makes it very difficult, but maybe an opportunity for us to be on the lookout for people in need and to be able to reach out where you can and help support our brothers and sisters,” said Philippi.

“I can go grocery shopping, but there are so many people who can’t eat,” said Silva. “Kids to go to school hungry, so that should be taken care of.”

Livingston said he needed just a few things from the grocery store, but it doesn’t take much to rack up a $100 worth of items.

“I’ve got to get some cat food, some butter, which I’m sure is going to be not cheap, but you’ve got to buy it,” he said.

“We’ve all had to make decisions and cut back on different aspects of our lives just to make sure any of those bills you need to pay are getting done,” he added.

“Until they start seeing it, the average people start seeing it in their bank accounts, there’s no reason to celebrate until then.” 

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