American consumers should expect to see higher prices and even some empty shelves during their holiday shopping this year, President Joe Biden’s White House told Reuters on Tuesday.
The warning comes as the Biden administration works frantically to push back on skyrocketing inflation and strained supply chains across the country. Economists predicted earlier this year that the final months of 2021 would see total consumer prices rising 3.2% over 2020.
“There will be things that people can’t get,” a senior White House official told Reuters on Tuesday. “At the same time, a lot of these goods are hopefully substitutable by other things. … I don’t think there’s any real reason to be panicked, but we all feel the frustration and there’s a certain need for patience to help get through a relatively short period of time.”
A Sept. 29 study from Salesforce predicted that retail prices could rise as much as 20% compared to 2020. Women’s clothing, jewelry and watches had already risen 11.9% and 12.9% respectively as of August.
“Barriers at ports and skyrocketing costs of containers, two major pressures shaping holidays, should cause consumers to be concerned about product availability,” Salesforce warned.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki and other administration officials have repeatedly insisted that the inflation is “transitory” and will normalize sometime in 2022. The White House has repeated the line numerous times since worries over the economy began to outpace COVID-19 in polls across the U.S.
“What is the White House’s message to average Americans, including those who are on limited income though who are experiencing higher prices right now for food and clothing and other goods and services? You mentioned it’s expected to die down next year, but what is your message to them in the meantime, is it simply just to wait it out?” a reporter asked Psaki during a press briefing in July.
“That’s certainly not what I’ve ever said,” Psaki responded. “Our message is that we understand the threat that inflation poses. We will be vigilant about any responses needed. It’s important for Americans to know and understand that these impacts are temporary, and some of these price increases are a result of the economy turning back on.”
Some experts have disagreed, however, arguing that the inflation is here to stay “for years” thanks to Biden’s unprecedented spending programs.
“The 100% cause of inflation is the government,” Peter Schiff, the chief economist and global strategist at Euro Pacific Capital, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “It’s when the government spends money that it doesn’t collect in taxes and then the Federal Reserve monetizes the resulting deficits by printing money.”
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