Discounts remain, but inventory may be limited due to supply chain issues, according to experts 

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If you've noticed a big jump in gas prices, as well as higher prices on food and clothing, you're not alone.

Overall, the Consumer Price Index, which compiles prices for a wide array of goods and services, recently announced that over the past 12 months prices rose 6.2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the biggest annual increase in 31 years, since December 1990.

The reason behind all this is due to what is called inflation, which means "basically the increase in the prices of goods and services and a decrease in the purchasing power of your money," Sylvia Kwan, chief investment officer at Ellevest, tells PEOPLE. 

"What you can buy for $10 today buys less over time," she says. "You can also think of it as prices of goods and services going up faster than wages."

The areas hardest hit by price increases? Gas for your car is up almost by 50 percent while the price of used cars and trucks are up over 25 percent, according to BLS.

Other items that also saw jumps include new cars (up 9.8 %), food (up 5.3 %), apparel (up 4.3 %) and housing (up 3.5 %).

With the year's biggest shopping days upon us, what does this mean for Black Friday deals — which many retailers began offering early?

In some ways it can actually benefit consumers, according to MarketWatch. "It's even more important for retailers to offer deals this year because of inflation, which can cause consumers to be scrappier about how they shop," Diana Smith, a retail analyst at Mintel, told MarketWatch.

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Yet discounts may not be as steep as in prior years.

"My guess is you're seeing 5 to 10 percentage points less discounting going on in the environment," Steve Sadove, Mastercard senior adviser and former Saks chairman and CEO, told Yahoo Finance.

"You're seeing a lot of key items selling early," he told the outlet. "People are getting out there and getting the items quickly because they know that they're going to be running out of stock."

And discounts on items can be fleeting, Kristin McGrath, editor of The Real Deal at RetailMeNot, told MarketWatch, noting that "what's likely going to happen is that these discounts will be offered on a low supply."

Supply chain issues triggered by the pandemic, resulting in a shortage of goods worldwide, "are what's driving inflation today," added Kwan. "Prices generally increase when there's more demand for something than supply."

"There is pent-up demand from everybody being locked up," she said. "And now there's this pent-up consumer demand for things."

black friday
Credit: Getty

Consumers are expected to flock to the internet and brick-and-mortar stores for Black Friday shopping, according to The National Retail Federation. It predicts "nearly 2 million more people than last year are expected to shop from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday," with 66% of those surveyed planning to shop this weekend. 

For those shopping during the weekend, 58 percent said deals that are "too good to pass up" remain the top reason.

"We're expecting another record-breaking holiday season this year and Thanksgiving weekend will play a major role as it always has," Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the NRF, said in a release

Still, Americans could be facing higher prices overall for the near future. While the Federal Reserve, the nation's central banking system, is calling inflation "transitory," with the expectation that by the end of the year it would subside, "we haven't seen that yet," says Kwan.

"It just may take longer for it to start subsiding," she says. "But it is It is transitory."