COVID-19 brought much of daily life in the U.S. to a halt in March and April of 2020, with stay-at-home orders prompting Americans to flock to their local grocery stores to stock up on essentials. As demand for groceries grew and many supply chains were interrupted, prices rose.
Groceries were 4.5% more expensive in June 2020 than they were in February 2020, the month before the coronavirus pandemic was declared a national emergency in the United States. And the prices of some items rose more than twice as much.
To determine the 19 food items driving up grocery bills the most during the coronavirus pandemic, 24/7 Wall St. analyzed changes in the consumer price index for all urban consumers from February to June 2020 for over 100 grocery items using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In order to avoid double counting and ambiguity, we excluded categories of groceries that include one or more items that also fall into another category. For example, we included the BLS’ category “beef and veal” but did not include the more granular categories of “uncooked beef roasts,” “uncooked beef steaks,” and “uncooked ground beef.” We also excluded broader catch-all designations, such as “snacks,” or those categorized by the BLS as “other.”
Consumers finally got some relief in July, when prices dropped 1.1% from June. This was due in part to a sharp decline in the price of meat. Many meat supply chains were disrupted in earlier months, when workers in several processing facilities across the country contracted the virus. In addition to cutting into the U.S. meat supply, outbreaks in the plants led to relatively high rates of COVID-19 per capita in the towns in which the plants are located. These are the cities in every state where COVID-19 is growing the fastest.
Americans have been going to the grocery store not just because they want to stock up, but also likely because some have had to prepare more food than usual. Many restaurants have been forced to limit diners to delivery only or outdoor seating due to social distancing restrictions, and others have shuttered for good because they could no longer afford to stay open. These are the 35 most popular restaurants that won’t reopen after the pandemic.
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