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Food prices continue to go up. An ongoing survey of common kitchen staples reports they are getting even more expensive.
Meanwhile, retailers are starting to get worried about the holidays.
That trip to the grocery store costs about 7.5 percent more than it did in April. And it could jump even higher by the year's end, to perhaps the highest increase in 18 years. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects an overall 5 percent to 6 percent increase in the price of food for 2008.
The Deseret News has been tracking the cost of a basket of 15 groceries, a movie and blue jeans. It went up 1.1 percent since last month, but economists think food prices will rise an average of 9 percent a year through 2012.
The newspaper reports the increasing demand for corn-based ethanol fuel has rippled out to jack up grocery prices everywhere. The weakened dollar also is driving food prices.
The Deseret News has been tracking prices of milk, bread, frozen corn, laundry soap, hamburger meat, diapers, eggs, orange juice, Cheerios, Oreos, bananas, movie tickets, gasoline, takeout pizza and blue jeans. It reports the best buys have been orange juice, takeout pizza and a movie ticket. The price of gas costs 7 percent less than it did a month ago. Egg prices have been the most volatile.
Right now retailers fear the worst.
Some sales analysts are predicting the gloomiest holiday shopping season in 24 years.
At The Gateway in Salt Lake City, shoppers find a 40 percent price cut at Old Navy, 50 percent at Coldwater Creek.
And at ZGallerie, "Fifty to 75 percent off all of our sale merchandise," a clerk told us.
Down the path, it's about the same at Ann Taylor Loft.
"Up to 60 percent, some of them are even less. These are permanent markdowns," the clerk there said.
But the red sales slashing signs popping out of store fronts frightened one shopper.
"Do you see anybody with packages walking around? Not too many. A few," she said.
Across town at Wal-Mart, the retailer plans to open its Christmas shops a week earlier than last year.