PHILADELPHIA — Like a lot of people, Maddy Liloia was grateful that the worst of COVID-19 is hopefully behind us.
The pandemic had robbed the young Philadelphian of her commencement ceremony when she graduated from Temple University last year. A post-pandemic holiday season would be a relief.
But hold that thought.
Gas prices have shot up, some goods are in short supply, and prices of even such basics as clothes have suddenly skyrocketed. Liloia, who works in technology marketing, said she’s considering giving loved ones “experiences” such as theater tickets for Christmas. Conventional gifts she might have bought in another year are just running too steep this holiday season.
“I’m afraid this is going to become the new normal, which scares me,” Liloia said.
While health experts are telling Americans that they can once again look forward to holiday togetherness if they are vaccinated, the economy is another story.
U.S. consumer prices jumped 6.2% last month compared with a year ago, as surging food, gas, and housing costs drove the highest inflation rate in 30 years. Inflation could also wipe out recent wage gains for workers. The complex economic impact of the pandemic has also resulted in shortages in certain goods and workers, which aren’t expected to abate any time soon.
What will all this mean for holiday shopping? Some people say they will definitely be picking where and how they spend their money more carefully than in past years.
Aisha Steele-Dillard, 40, and Jennifer Johnson, 47, visiting from Los Angeles, were enjoying browsing such shops as Free People and Urban Outfitters on Walnut Street in Center City on Sunday.
“I haven’t been shopping outside in so long,” Steele-Dillard marveled.