With inflation sending grocery and travel prices soaring, Americans are facing sticker shock as they try to celebrate Memorial Day weekend.
For the more than 39 million Americans traveling this holiday weekend, as well as the millions more staying home, higher prices are impossible to avoid. GasBuddy's annual summer travel survey, released earlier this month, found that while 70% of respondents said record-high gas prices had affected their summer travel plans, 58% of Americans still intend to go on a road trip in the coming months.
Those hitting the road, according to AAA, will be paying an average of 42% more for their hotel and about 50% more for gas compared to this time last year. The only industry in which prices were down, the organization revealed earlier this month, was rental cars. Customers could rent a vehicle for 16% less than last year.
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“Against a backdrop of gas prices that have continued to set new records ahead of Memorial Day, Americans have been resilient in their desire to hit the road, but we’re certainly seeing increased hesitancy due to rising prices at the pump. Soaring inflation has led to uncertainty over rising costs,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, said. “The Covid factor is still present, but has been dwarfed this year by Americans’ concern over high gas prices and dwindling affordable travel options to make use of best months of the year.”
While staying home could be a cost-cutting measure, people will still be paying more than last year for barbecue basics at the grocery store.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said last month that the overall price of food rose 10.8% compared to April of last year. The price of hot dogs is up 6.9%, while steaks costs 11.8% more than this time last year. Ground beef has gone up in price by 14.8%, and burger additions like lettuce and cheese increased by 12.7% and 6.5%, respectively. If shoppers want to add hot dog or burger buns, they'll be spending 9.6% more than last year.
Those who use propane, which powers about 47 million outdoor grills in the United States, will see a 26.5% price increase.
Those looking to celebrate with some refreshments will see slightly less shocking prices at the liquor store, though costs have still increased some. Beer has gone up by 5%, while wine is only up 1.5%.
President Joe Biden has called tackling inflation his top domestic priority, but he still remains underwater in polls over his handling of economic matters. Economists have warned that further government spending, as proposed by numerous House and Senate Democrats to alleviate the problem, could make inflation worse as concerns over prices reach their highest level since the 1980s.
On the Republican side, lawmakers have been united in their opposition and consistent in their criticism of Biden's spending and energy policies. Speaking on the Senate floor ahead of the holiday weekend, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) slammed the president for calling Japan's move away from fossil fuels "an incredible transition."
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"According to President Biden, it's all part of what call he calls a quote — ‘incredible transition.' Well, that's a heck of a way to describe his administration's war on the most affordable, reliable, abundant forms of energy in our country," the Kentucky senator said. "The consumer price index continues to hover at levels our economy hasn't seen in four decades. As we head into Memorial Day weekend, the American people have become reluctant experts in its painful, real-life effects."
In a later tweet, the nation's highest ranking elected Republican wrote that "as summer begins, travel costs from airfare to rental cars are surging. But millions of Americans are struggling to cover basic expenses, let alone vacations. The new normal under Democrats’ inflation: Harder to fill the tank. Harder to feed a family. Harder to get by.