Inflation has made an unwelcome appearance at many of our favorite stores. But as we anxiously watch the price of many goods rise, the cost of other items is actually falling.
Hard as it may be to believe, a handful of items have gotten cheaper over the past year. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest Consumer Price Index, which reflects June data, reveals that these items are bucking the trend of escalating costs, taking some of the sting out of rising prices elsewhere.
Following are a handful of items that quietly and unexpectedly became more affordable between June 2020 and June 2021. All fell by more than 6% on the price index during that 12-month period.
For comparison, the price index as a whole increased 5.4% from June 2020 to June 2021 — the largest 12-month increase since August 2008.
7. Medical equipment and supplies
Price index change from June 2020 to June 2021: 6.3% decrease
At a time when global supply chain issues are helping to push the price of items like cars higher, medical equipment and supplies are exceptions to the rule.
While falling prices are always welcome, forgive medical professionals if they don’t breathe a large sigh of relief. Prices skyrocketed during the pandemic — some reports suggest that a box of 100 gloves that cost $2.39 early in 2020 cost $30 by the spring of this year.
So, prices still have a long way to fall before you hear anyone whisper the word “affordable.”
6. Health insurance
Price index change from June 2020 to June 2021: 6.9% decrease
Health insurance is probably the last item you expect to see on this list. After all, we all know the cost of health care is spiraling out of control.
Or maybe not.
As crazy as it sounds, health insurance costs are dipping. In fact, research from the Urban Institute reveals that prices fell:
- 1.2% from 2018 to 2019
- 3.2% from 2019 to 2020
- 1.7% from 2020 to 2021
As with medical supplies, these prices are falling from what felt like very high levels, so the price relief might not be obvious to everyone. But at least the trend is in the right direction.
5. Men’s suits, sport coats and outerwear
Price index change from June 2020 to June 2021: 7% decrease
Who says you have to pay a fortune to look good? The cost of duds that make you look dandy is down, at least for men.
This should be no surprise, as 2020 was the year workers traded in wearing suits to the office for staying home and attending Zoom meetings in their PJs. The falling cost of fancy clothes is simply the old law of supply and demand at work.
4. Admission to sporting events
Price index change from June 2020 to June 2021: 7.2% decrease
The pandemic era has been a tough time for sports. Emptier stadiums and arenas and sagging television ratings suggest that America’s love for its favorite games may have cooled a bit.
But athletics has no room for quitters. Instead of taking their ball and going home, sports franchises are hustling to entice fans back into the fold as vaccination rates rise by lowering ticket prices.
Reduced costs for fans, more fans in the seats for the sports franchises — sounds like a big win for all.
3. Uncooked ground beef
Price index change from June 2020 to June 2021: 8.4% decrease
Here is another surprise: It’s a little cheaper this summer to toss hamburgers on the grill.
If you find claims of falling meat prices a little hard to swallow, we understand. As recently as Memorial Day, shoppers were complaining about the rising cost of their favorite cuts.
But meat prices are notoriously volatile, and yesterday’s expensive burger can quickly turn into today’s bargain.
2. Telephone hardware, calculators and other consumer information items
Price index change from June 2020 to June 2021: 17.8% decrease
Where would we be without the trusty telephone? Fortunately, we don’t have to find out, as phone hardware is a relative bargain these days.
The price of telecom equipment is coming down across the board, reports say. Thank competition, which is forcing companies to drive their costs down while offering a better deal to customers.
If you’re in the market for a new phone, check out Money Talks News’ free cellphone and wireless plan comparison tool.
1. Food at employee sites and schools
Price index change from June 2020 to June 2021: 29.9% decrease
The cost of food at workplaces and schools has plunged, making it the biggest bargain on this list.
As with the falling price of ground beef, this one is a bit of a head-scratcher. But we’re not complaining. Who says you can’t get a free — or at least cheaper — lunch?
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