5 Things You Can Afford To Buy Again as Inflation Slows

Selects vegetables at a supermarket stock photo
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Inflation continued to ease in April 2023 as the overall rate rose only 4.9% from the previous year — the smallest gain since April 2021. That’s mostly good news for consumers, though some items are still rising at a rapid clip, ranging from electricity and transportation services to restaurant meals.

On the bright side, a few items are finally becoming affordable again after hitting record or near-record highs in 2022. Here’s a look at five things you can afford to buy now.

1. Gasoline

Less than a year ago, the average price of gasoline in the United States stood at an all-time high of $5.016 a gallon. In May, that average has fallen nearly 30% to an average of $3.539 a gallon, according to AAA. Drivers in at least one state, Mississippi, now pay an average of less than $3 a gallon.

The gasoline index declined 12.2% during the 12 months ending April 30, 2023, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest Consumer Price Index report. Many industry experts expect gas prices to remain low through summer travel season amid a slump in the global oil market.

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2. Bacon

Bacon lovers have reason to celebrate this year thanks to a decline in the price of the smoky, crispy, ever-popular meat. In April, the price of bacon and related products fell 8.9% year-over-year, according to the BLS.

Retail bacon prices have averaged $6.67 so far in 2023, the Beef2Live website reported. That’s down from an average of $7.31 in 2022, which was the highest annual average price on record.  As recently as October 2022, the average price was $7.61, meaning the price has fallen by about a dollar in six months.

3. Lettuce

If you prefer crispy lettuce over crispy bacon, then 2023 has brought good news your way, as well. Although the BLS’s lettuce index rose 3.9% on a yearly basis in April, the month-over-month price declined by 5.7%.

The price of lettuce hit an all-time high late last year as production was hampered by a virus, the AARP recently reported. Since then, prices are nearly 80% below their peak. Those low prices might not last long, however. Tom Bailey, a senior consumer food analyst at Rabobank, told AARP that record rainfalls in California have slowed lettuce planting in the state, which could send prices back up.

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4. Used Vehicles

The BLS’s used cars and trucks index recorded an annual decline of 6.6% in April, though prices did nudge 4.4% higher on a month-over-month basis. At the wholesale level, wholesale used-vehicle prices decreased 3% in April from March, according to Cox Automotive. The Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index (MUVVI) dropped to 230.8, down 4.4% from a year ago.

“We’ve experienced eight straight months of year-over-year declines, averaging 8.3%, and it’s likely not over yet,” Chris Frey, senior manager of Economic and Industry Insights for Cox Automotive, said in a blog on the Manheim Consulting site.

5. Major Appliances

The BLS’s major appliances index recorded a hefty 10.4% year-over-year decline in April, as the category has seen lower prices every month in 2023. Items listed under “major appliances” include refrigerators, washing machines, clothes dryers, ranges/cooktops and microwave ovens.

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If you are in the market to buy a major appliance, now is a good time to start shopping. The Memorial Day holiday — which falls on Monday, May 29 this year — is one of the times of year when you’re likely to see big sales prices on appliances.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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