Sunday, April 26, 2015

Forget 'flat' CPI: Prices up at Wal-Mart, dollar stores

Stock analyst says store checks show retail prices are rising, despite US consumer data that claims prices are flat.

Forget 'flat' CPI: Prices up at Wal-Mart, dollar stores

The view inside a Family Dollar store. (Photo from
The view inside a Family Dollar store. (Photo from

"Inflation is hardly anywhere to be found," writes Philadelphia economist Joel Naroff, citing the U.S. Department of Labor's go-back-to-sleep consumer price report for August.

Actually, at Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retail chain, prices are "going up, not down," writes Charles Grom, New York-based retail analyst at Birmingham, Ala.-based Stern Agee & Co. This "despite (the) rhetoric" of Wal-Mart's claims that the company "invests in price," he added.

Gorm checked prices at Dollar General, Family Dollar and Wal-Mart stores in New Jersey, and "surprisingly" found retail prices rose for a basket of 42 consumer items at each of the three chains during August: 1.8% at Wal-Mart; 1.1% at Dollar General, reversing an earlier-in-the-year decrease; and by a modest 0.1% at Family Dollar. The increases are across-the-board and not concentrated on some categories.

Also: Wal-Mart still has the cheapest groceries, by up to 10%; Family Dollar has cheaper housewares and pet stuff, by about 4%. But rising Wal-Mart prices, relative to others', mean the chain is not that much cheaper, overall, than the dollar stores (around 3% on average).  Cigarettes still cost about $7.40 a pack at the chains (a few cents cheaper, on average, at Family Dollar).

More coverage
Inflation still in check
About this blog

PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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