No matter what you buy these days, you’re likely to pay more for it. Inflation is at its highest level in four decades.
Small businesses across the country are paying more for goods, including bakeries. Bakery owners say almost every ingredient they use costs more.
“One week it’s coconut powder, the next week it’s butter,” said bakery owner Cheryl Scripter. “The week after that it will be eggs, any dairy, just across the board, everything has increased.”
Grocery prices have increased by over 6% in the last year and business owners are faced with difficult decisions.
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“With a small business, you live and die by how much your groceries cost,” said bakery owner Hillary Guttman. “If it goes up even 5%, it can really impact your revenue, your ability to pay employees, pay rent and keep the lights on.”
Inflation is forcing some bakery owners to raise prices for the first time in years.
“Unfortunately, because it was such a big deal, we had to raise the prices of our cakes,” Scripter said. “I couldn’t take any more of it.”
The US Chamber of Commerce’s most recent Small Business Index found that inflation is now the dominant problem affecting small businesses.
In 2021, their surveys showed that 63% of small businesses have hiked prices, 40% have cut staff, and 45% have taken out loans due to inflation.
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At Bittersweet Confections in New Orleans, Scripter says they’re making fewer cakes.
“Before Covid, all my pastry boxes were completely full and we refilled almost every day,” Scripter said. “Now you can see that we’re just not putting them out because we’re afraid we’re making things that no one will need after we put in the time, labor and materials.”
Guttman, the owner of Laurel Street Bakery, says price increases are inevitable.
“Nobody’s happy about that,” Guttman said. “I hope the customers will understand. If it goes up at all, I’ll have to raise the prices across the board. That is extremely unpredictable.”
Guttman says that even things a customer might not think of cost more.
“The cup that the coffee goes in, the straws, all the spices that go in the coffee, all of that is a must-have, but even those costs have skyrocketed and have been rising steadily over the past 6 months,” Guttman said.
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The supply also plays a role.
“That’s the other thing, the supply is so sporadic that if you get your hands on something, even if it’s double what it was the week before, you’re still buying it,” Guttman said.
“We have to change the recipes because we can’t find the ingredients we normally use,” Scripter added. “It only makes everything more challenging.