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Consumer Goods Prices Drop as Supply Chains Reopen

Following a long battle with inflation, shoppers are discovering deals once more.

As The Wall Street Journal notes in a report Sunday (Dec.10), the easing of supply constraints and an uptick in hiring in the manufacturing space has improved production and lowered prices. 

The report uses the example of Kendric Tonn, an Ohio artist, to illustrate the way consumers have benefited from this trend. He replaced his washer last month and paid just $600, a discounted price that included delivery and removal of the old appliance.

“With the state of everything, I was mentally prepared for it to be more,” he said.

The report cites Commerce Department figures showing that prices for durable goods have dropped on a year-over-year basis for five consecutive months. 

And some product categories — like TVs — are priced lower now than before the COVID pandemic, the report said, citing data from Circana, a company that monitors consumer goods.

Prices on these products began to lower last year when supply-chain delays eased for the traditionally imported items. Goods shipped from Asia began to move more reliably into the U.S., and demand fell since many people had already updated their tech during the pandemic, Paul Gagnon, consumer-technology industry adviser for Circana, told the WSJ.

The news comes two days after the December preliminary results from the University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers showed consumer sentiment soaring.

According to the report, sentiment reached a point 13% higher than the previous month and 16% above the year-ago level, marking a turnaround in consumer sentiment and wiping away all the declines recorded in the prior four months.

“Sentiment is now about 39% above the all-time low measured in June of 2022 but still well below pre-pandemic levels,” Surveys of Consumers Director Joanne Hsu said when announcing the results.

She attributed the increase in consumer sentiment to improvements in the expected trajectory of inflation, with consumers’ year-ahead inflation expectations falling to 3.1% in December, down from 4.5% in November.

Roughly 60% of U.S. consumers have consistently struggled to make ends meet throughout the past two years, PYMNTS reported. 

Rising prices have strained the pocketbook and consumers have worked to stretch their budget, leading many consumers to adopt saving strategies that may outlast inflation.