How inflation is affecting Central Illinois, and how consumers can shop smart this holiday season

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CENTRAL ILLINOIS, Ill. (WMBD) — International supply chain issues and global inflation is hitting home in Central Illinois.

Colin Corbett is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Bradley University in Peoria, who said these problems are a global phenomenon.

“So clearly there are a number of supply chain bottlenecks, and overall, sort of international shortages. Particularly with fuel in general and particularly with gasoline, we’re seeing international price surges and shortages,” Corbett said.

He said demand for energy is increasing dramatically as the world recovers from the pandemic. But in contrast, he said, companies like the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) are not increasing their supply. This, in turn, raises prices.

“They’re purposely letting prices go up in order to make more money,” he said.

However, he said prices seem more drastic for things like gas because during the pandemic, prices were so low. But now they are high, but not too much higher than pre-pandemic.

“What I always say as an economist is: let prices change your behavior,” Corbett said.

To save money amidst the inflation, Corbett said, one good alternative to online shopping is staying local. And even better, he said rather than buying fun things online for entertainment, instead buy local services for entertainment.

“If you want to support the local economy, buying local services is a great way to do so,” he said.

Corbett also said that instead of buying material gifts this holiday season, a better option is experience-based gifts. This would include tickets to an event, restaurant gift cards, and homemade gifts.

“Those are things that people value,” he said, ” and are not quite as subject to supply chain constraints.”

Corbett said the Federal Reserve is watching inflation rates closely, and one way it may try to counter inflation is by raising interest rates. However, he said if the issue is mostly transitory, the economy should recover on its own.

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