Retailers

At 6.8%, November Inflation Topped October's Highs

Beef prices again up 20% as food-at-home prices see their biggest climb since 2008
Costco checkout line
Photograph: Shutterstock

Consumer prices were up 6.8% year over year in November, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday—a 12-month increase not seen since 1982. November's jump in prices topped October's spike of 6.2%, which had been the biggest increase in more than 30 years.

Energy prices were up a whopping 33.3% year over year, while food-at-home prices rose 6.4% on a 12-month basis, a significant acceleration from the 5.4% increase recorded in October and the largest increase in grocery prices since December 2008, the BLS noted. Restaurant/foodservice prices, meanwhile, rose 5.8% year over year—the biggest spike for those venues since January 1982, driven by a 7.9% hike in prices at fast-food and other limited-service restaurants in the past year.

For the third consecutive month, consumers saw prices climb throughout the grocery store: Prices were up once again in all six of the bureau's major grocery categories. The meat, poultry, fish and eggs category continued to lead the mix, with prices up 12.8% year over year.

Price hikes for beef again topped 20% on a 12-month basis, rising 20.9%. Pork, led by bacon (up 21% year over year), beat its record-busting October surge; prices in November were up 16.8% year over year. 

Other big gainers at the grocery store in November included flour/flour mixes (up 1.8% month to month and 6.2% year over year), fresh fruit (with apple prices up 7.4% year over year and prices for berries/"other fresh fruits" up 7.7%), fresh whole milk, carbonated drinks and coffee. Both soft drinks and coffee have seen retail prices climb more than 7% in the past year.

On a month-to-month basis, the BLS reported, consumer prices overall rose a seasonally adjusted 0.8% in November after rising 0.9% in October. 

Consumers looking to console themselves about escalating prices may want to turn to cookies or ice cream—two of a handful of grocery subcategories to see prices actually dip from October and rise 1% or less year over year.

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