Analysis by Summer Lane | Photo: Alamy
Last year, working Americans felt the strain in their wallets amid a devastating uptick in inflation, leading to high prices on gas, goods, and gifts ahead of Christmas. In 2023, the economic landscape is still suffering as the market groans under the pressures of high interest rates, a battered auto industry, and oppressed domestic energy production.
There is no doubt that with Joe Biden in the White House, the country has been led down a path of America “last” policies. As war rages on overseas in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe, the happy swirl of consumerism that usually grips America in the wake of Thanksgiving is poised to look a little different this year.
While Americans are paying sky-high prices for gas, groceries, and rent, they are likely reflecting on just how different their bank accounts looked a few years ago when President Trump was in the White House.
Sales are expected to dip this year
Last year, RSBN reported that American holiday shoppers were purchasing “much more conservatively” and hunting for good sales and bargains, hesitant to overspend amid inflationary problems in the U.S. economy.
This year, the downward trend continues. Sales are expected to slow to the lowest rate in the past five years, as Americans are consumed with footing the bill on other essential items like food, rent or mortgages, and energy prices. According to Reuters, this data comes from the National Retail Federation, which predicted between a three and four percent increase in sales this Christmas season.
Food prices are out of sight
Anyone can see that prices have risen at the grocery store. A simple comparison of receipts between 2018 and 2023 will tell you all you need to know about the cost of meat, dairy, and dry goods.
In 2022, inflation rose to 7.7 percent, with an 8.2 percent annual rise, RSBN reported. Inflation certainly hasn’t gotten any better since then, despite what the legacy media may declare. American consumers can feel the pressure at the cash register when they pay for their items.
Arguably, the price of groceries can be linked to numerous shortages that have occurred recently, including the infamous avian flu in 2022 that sent chicken eggs soaring in 2023. CNBC reported in the spring that egg prices had increased by a whopping 70 percent, for example, blaming “supply chain snarls.”
They also reported this spring that labor shortages had increased food costs “by 10.1% overall in the last year.”
For the holidays, CBS recently stated that canned cranberries will cost 60 percent more, canned pumpkin will cost 30 percent more, and Russet potatoes will be 14 percent more than last year.
Transportation and travel
The average price of a car in today’s economy is nearly $50,000, making personal car ownership yet another burden for the working-class American to shoulder. With car prices and their subsequent payments higher than ever, the high prices that Americans are paying at the pump make traveling for the holiday season increasingly difficult.
Right now, the average nationwide price per gallon of gas is $3.30, according to AAA. The highest gas prices are in states like California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts.
AAA also projected that this year, more Americans will likely travel for the holidays than in 2022. However, they revealed that the average price for a domestic flight is up five percent from 2022. Via their report, airfare in 2023 “is slightly more expensive for domestic flights this season and a bit lower for international flights.”
A future for America
Joe Biden’s administration will oversee the third America holiday season in a row this year. Although Biden benefitted from riding on the coattails of Trump’s strong economy in 2021, in 2022 and especially this year, that boost has long since subsided.
With war flaming overseas and the United States continuing to pour billions of dollars into foreign nations’ quests for military dominance, it is unlikely that the economy will improve before the November 2024 election. In the meantime, Americans this Christmas season will have to deal, once again, with an increasingly expensive market in their quest to net a little holiday cheer.