Inflation, supply shortages hit Torrington

TORRINGTON – What do Torrington’s mom-and-pop shops have in common with online giant Amazon? Answer: supply shortage struggles.

Inflation rates and supply shortages seem to be climbing a path not many people are able to follow. Rising prices means money gets a little tighter and heading into the holiday season when expenses are already multiplied, many Goshen County residents are worried.

The Wyoming Economic Analysis Division recently released the Wyoming Cost of Living Index for the second quarter of 2021. The report shows costs statewide increased an average of 7.7% during that time. Prices in southeast Wyoming rose an average of 7.2%. Costs in the entire U.S. rose an estimated 4.8%, putting Wyoming’s inflation rate far ahead of the rest of the country.

In Goshen County, the average cost of a two-bedroom apartment was $570 in June 2020. In June 2021, the average cost of that same apartment was $609, an increase of 6.8% in one year.

“Inflation hurts American pocketbooks, and reversing this trend is a top priority for me,” President Biden said in a statement on Nov. 10.

While economists across the country debate who’s to blame for this inflation (answers range from the Biden administration’s COVID relief package to people just buying too much stuff), a price-inflated Thanksgiving is here.

Food-related costs rose 1.9% and transportation-related costs rose 23.3% in Wyoming this year, all adding up to higher costs for that turkey thawing out in the fridge.

“The price of meat is astonishingly high because of issues with the packers not having enough workers to process the meat for the supply and demand,” Main Street Market manager Tom Kelly said. “You have less supply coming out and, you know, it’s going to raise the price because you just don’t have the workforce.”

One trick to avoiding high prices is ordering early, before inflation prices hit, but this option isn’t always possible.

“We try to buy smart before that inflation hits,” Carrie Dishman at Fresh Foods grocery store on Main Street said. “We’ve been able to hold everything pretty conservative and not that much of a jump, but we understand there is a jump, especially the perishable items such as meat and produce.”

Dishman pointed out the difference between perishable and nonperishable foods’ prices was that something nonperishable like a can of pumpkin was made before inflation hit and thus cost less money to get on the shelf. On the other hand, something perishable like a turkey can’t sit on a shelf for long, meaning it must be prepared and transported amid high inflation rates.

“High inflation robs us of our economic gains,” Governor Mark Gordon wrote in a statement preceding his proposed budget for the 2023 and 2024 fiscal years. “The second quarter of 2021 saw the highest level of inflation in Wyoming in more than a decade.”

Stores are also facing slower shipping due to shortages of both labor and goods, and demand for certain goods is only increasing by the day.

“Our biggest issue is getting stuff delivered,” Ruth Van Mark at Sew Addicting on Main Street said. “I’ve had several vendors tell me that my order that I should have had here a couple weeks ago is stuck on an ocean liner someplace.”

Those phone calls on hold with customer service have led to an extra dose of caution when stocking up the store.

“I’m careful when I order something,” Van Mark said. “If they say they have it in stock, then I’ll order it. If it’s something that’s out of stock, I know I won’t get it for a while.”

Other stores in Torrington have noticed the same trend in supply shortages.

“We’ve definitely noticed a little bit of a price raise compared to last year,” Erika Veenstra at Old Moose Mercantile on 21st Avenue said. “[Shipping] has just been slower, but we found some really great local places that we can buy from.”


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