Eye-popping price increases are forcing New Yorkers to cut back on their spending — and even go into debt — amid inflation rates that hit a 40-year high Friday.
The latest monthly figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the average price of all consumer goods surged 8.6% during the 12 months that ended in May.
That’s the highest increase since 1981 — before most Americans were born — and it’s leaving many everyday folks with sticker shock while shopping for groceries, gas or a new home.
‘It’s just crazy†
Upper West Side resident Natasha Samus emerged Friday from her weekly trip to the neighborhood’s iconic Zabar’s gourmet deli after spending at least 10 percent more than she did a year ago.
“Three hundred dollars for two bags of food — and I didn’t even buy meat,” the Manhattan woman fumed.
“I just got dairy, vegetables, cold cuts, jam, bread and fish.”
Samus, 55, said the same stuff “used to cost $100, $150.
“It’s just crazy,” she said.
“I don’t buy as much food anymore because it’s too expensive.”
Samus also said she’d be lugging her haul home on foot because a taxi ride from the store at Broadway and West 80th Street would cost too much.
Meanwhile, Samus said she had hoped to trade her apartment for another one with more natural light — until she learned about current rent prices.
“My one-bedroom apartment is $3,000 a month. Another one-bedroom in the same apartment building is now going for $4,800,” she said.
“It’s not possible for me to move. Rent prices are just too expensive.”
‘I’ll never go out’
Security-alarm installer Patrick Legros, 62, said that even with a steady job, he’s fallen behind on mortgage payments for his three-bedroom house in suburban Pomona, NY.
“I spend more than I make. Food and gas are the worst — that’s where my paycheck goes,” he said while working on West 79th Street in Manhattan.
“It just cost me $103 to fill up with gas, and my tank wasn’t even empty. Gas is $5 a gallon where I live.”
Legros said he’s started eating more fast food, admitting it’s “not healthy, but it’s all I can afford.
“And I never go out for a meal or a drink with friends, so my social life has suffered,” he added.
‘It sucks to spend that much†
Lauren Capone did a double-take Thursday when the bill came for breakfast with her husband and their 1-year-old daughter Luella at the Sarabeth’s restaurant on Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan.
“We got orange juice and a tea, a kid’s meal, I had egg whites, and my husband had French toast. And it was $120,” she recalled.
“It sucks to spend that much on breakfast.”
The pricey meal “made me think about where we eat out, what sort of food we get and how much we order,” Capone, 31, said while pushing her toddler on the swings in the playground at Riverside Park.
Meanwhile, the monthly rent on the family’s Upper West Side apartment just shot up by $400, and “groceries are definitely getting more expensive,” Capone said.
“I shop at Whole Foods to get good food for my daughter, but it’s costing more and more,” she said.
“I’m definitely noticing there’s more money on the credit cards, and there’s not as many funds to fully pay it off.”
‘The price… really hurts’
Increased travel costs are cutting down on family get-togethers for expectant parents Andrea and Adam Molina, both 34, of Jersey City, NJ.
“We used to go and see my sister in Baltimore once every two months, but now it’s more like once every four months,” Andrea said.
“The price of renting a car and filling it with gas has become unaffordable.”
And the cost of public transportation isn’t much better, Andrea said.
“Even the train has become far more expensive,” she said.
“It’s almost $300 for the weekend just to get there and back.”
Adam, who joined his wife for a trip to see her obstetrician in Manhattan, said the couple has “taken a hit on groceries, which have become noticeably more expensive.
“The price per pound of meat really hurts,” he said.
“In reality, the cost of living — especially groceries and laundromat services — is going up even faster than inflation.”