I-TEAM: Experiencing grocery store sticker shock recently? You're not the only one.

Friday, May 15, 2020
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

(Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- It’s amazing how expensive staying at home can be. You’ve probably been spending more money at the grocery store.

We found that’s the case for almost everyone, and it’s not just because we’re eating more.

Sure, the more we’re home, the more we find ourselves spelunking the deep recesses of our refrigerator, looking for a bite.

A lot of us are cooking more, too. It used to be a good way to save money, but it seems we’re spending more and more.

Grocery stores in the two-state saw an 83 percent increase in demand. Sure, it’s still difficult to find toilet paper, and Clorox wipes are also tough to locate, but the shelves are starting to look normal.

That is, until you start looking at the prices. A lot of you have noticed, too.

Viewer Tonya saw eggs at $1.79 prior to the virus. Now they are $3.79. Sarah paid $5.19 for a pound of hamburger meat. Krystal says her grocery bill more than doubled.

The climb has been steady, but we found it really spiked between April and May. In fact, it was the highest month-to-month increase since 1974.

Meat is especially expensive as coronavirus outbreaks at processing and packaging plants have slowed production.

"And the prices that we're doing right now are just astronomical,” Steve Gill, owner of DC Meat, said. “The only thing that we can do is just pass it onto the consumer."

The dairy industry is struggling too. Egg prices are up 16 percent. When schools and restaurants abruptly shut down, there wasn't a system in place to redirect things with a shelf life -- like milk -- to other places. Farmers ended up dumping it in fields.

"I don't feel like there is anyone to blame. It's just a very difficult situation, but it's a reality,” dairy farmer Kerry Estes said.

In April 2019, a gallon of milk averaged $2.98. Last month, it shot up to an average of $3.26

Even bread is affected. This time last year, a loaf averaged $1.28. it's now around $1.40.

Again, these are national numbers, but what does that mean for us locally? Let's pick a place on both sides of the river. Area Vibes calculates an overall lower cost of living than the national average for both Aiken and Augusta. But that doesn't apply to groceries. Both score 100 out of 100, so yeah -- we're right there with everyone else.

I don't know about you, but I love a buy one-get one free sale. It's a cheap way to stock a pantry. Unfortunately, grocery stores are doing away with those to discourage hoarding, so those of us used to saving money that way are taking an extra hit.

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue says despite plant closures, he does not anticipate wide-spread meat shortages. The former Georgia governor says he expects meat production to be at 85 top 90 percent in the next couple of weeks.

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