From housing to groceries, Sonoma County residents are adapting to pay more


Customers are cutting their prices while some are turning to hybrid and electric vehicles to save money on gas, she said.

“From an inflationary point of view, everyone is really looking at their budget,” Negri said.

Car buyers, however, were not particularly disadvantaged with auto loans. Those rates have been climbing more slowly than those in the mortgage market, she said.

“Rates are still relatively low,” Negri said, adding that Redwood’s auto loans start at 2.69% and it offers discounts for hybrid and electric vehicles.

Races

Shoppers are also experiencing higher supermarket bills. The US Department of Agriculture noted that grocery prices rose at an annual rate of 3.5% in 2020 and 2021 during the height of the pandemic.

The largest increases occurred with meats, especially beef and veal. Fresh fruits and vegetables saw the smallest spikes. But the department was clear on what COVID-19 has done to food production: “No food category decreased in price in 2021 compared to 2020.”

At family-run Molsberry Market in Larkfield, co-owner Dean Molsberry said he tries to strike the right price balance with the roughly 30,000 different items his grocery store stocks. “It definitely becomes a juggling act of where you can take a margin or where your margins are definitely going down,” Molsberry said.

Transportation costs are a significant factor in wholesale price increases, especially for international products. Items that take up more cargo space, such as paper towels, incur additional charges.

“Cereals aren’t heavy, but they take up a lot of space,” he said. “So when you get deliveries, they charge you for the space you fill.”

The market found that some items were willing to pay more, such as gourmet items and pet food. “I will literally see people skimp on their personal food so their pets get better food,” he said.

Conversely, they are more demanding on items such as canned vegetables, where prices have remained generally stable, with generics filling a void.

“I will say we’re seeing more house tags for this (article),” Molsberry said.

Restaurants

Arguably no industry has been hit harder by the pandemic than restaurants, as Sonoma County has seen numerous closures over the past two years despite government aid efforts to save them. Steele and Hops in Santa Rosa were the latest victim this month.

Restaurants have been impacted by rising food costs and a tight labor market. This has forced many to cut their hours and operate with fewer workers. This also translated into higher menu prices. Average menu prices rose 7.7% between June 2021 and June 2022, the largest annual increase since 1981, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This was the case at the Bear Republic Brewing Co. restaurant in Rohnert Park.

For example, the cost of chicken wings has continued to rise while demand remains strong. As a result, the restaurant raised its menu price for chicken wings from $12.50 to $14, owner Richard G. Norgrove said. The starting price for his plate of burgers is now $15, which is about the floor for restaurants in Sonoma County that aren’t fast food.

“Chicken tenders. Fries. These are all commodities that have to be shipped from somewhere,” Norgrove said. “You do your best not to pass on those food prices. review daily.

wine and beer

Both of these local commodities are also under price pressure. For wine, it’s a tale of two markets, according to Rob McMillan, founder of the wine division of Silicon Valley Bank.

Bargain shoppers should take advantage. “Prices in the sub-$11 grocery segment aren’t going up,” McMillan said in an email.

He added that the budget price category in grocery stores had fallen 8% in revenue through May. “It’s clear that higher-production wineries aren’t keeping up with inflation.”

This is not the case for more premium wines. His bank conducted a survey released earlier this year that showed 72% of wineries making wines over $25 said they would raise prices, most by a small amount.

“Ultimately, inflation impacts wine producers, but they don’t fully pass on the impact of price increases to consumers. They make lower margins,” he said.

Meanwhile, craft breweries are adjusting to increases in trucking costs, packaging materials, aluminum cans and malt prices, said Bart Watson, chief economist at the Brewers Association, the trade group that represents independent breweries.

“Everything is more expensive,” he says.

Bear Republic is reviewing its pricing structure with its distributors, Norgrove said. “I think you’re going to see a lot of brewers…you’ll see price take in the fall,” he said. “We’re already losing money on things right now.”

But some are waiting for now.

Anderson Valley Brewing Co. in Boonville has realized savings from its solar panels as well as a switch to 100% aluminum cans and cardboard packaging to reduce trucking costs, said Kevin McGee, president and chief executive officer. . “We had the option and elected to hold the price,” McGee added.

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