Special Report

Here Are the Prices That Actually Went Down Since Last Year

The March consumer price index figures could be signaling that the rapid rise in inflation, which has injured the economy for months and caused the Federal Reserve to rapidly raise rates, may be ending. The topline number was a 5% increase from a year ago. The year over year increase in the CPI – a measure of the costs of U.S. goods and services – was closer to 8% recently.

The best way to look at inflation is to examine the CPI components. The prices of some doubled, while the price of others dropped by double digits in March. While several gas and fuel items prices dropped in March, many of the components that had the largest price drops are the same as they have been in recent months. They include consumer electronics items – particularly, the price of smartphones is falling. 

The price of smartphones dropped 24% in March 2023 compared to March 2022. One of the characteristics of smartphone prices taken into account is “promotions and discounts.” These are often given to entice customers, particularly in a competitive environment. So, for example, price wars among AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile as they vie for a pool of over 200 million customers often entice new clients with new promotions. 

Smartphone prices in the CPI can also fall if the smartphones involved have new features that may increase the value of the new device as the CPI generally compares similar items, large eggs to large eggs, for example. (Here is the price of a dozen eggs every year since 1973.)

Where does inflation go from here? It is too early to count out high inflation. Energy prices actually dropped in March, but a recent decision by OPEC+ to cut production will almost certainly make oil prices – and with it energy prices – rise. It is too early to know what crop yields and transportation costs will do for the balance of the year. (Here are countries with the lowest gas prices in the world at the start of 2023.)

To determine the household items that are falling in price, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index Summary March report. Prices are compared to March 2022.

Click here to see the prices that actually went down since last year.

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