8 bargains hidden inside ugly inflation report

Buzz: With inflation running at a 40-year high — an ugly 8.6% nationally — one would think everything is pricier. Actually, 93% of the 333 items tracked in the monthly inflation report were more expensive in May than they were a year ago.

Source: My trusty spreadsheet reviewed the latest Consumer Price Index for May, looking at 12-month price changes.

Glass half-full

Well, 93% isn’t 100%, so here are eight goods and services that government inflation stats suggest might be “bargains.” They’re likely a rare slice of the economy where consumer demand is down.

1. Smartphones top this chart at 19.9% cheaper in a year. My guess is there’s one company that hasn’t come out with a killer new product in a couple of years. So, with folks not rushing to buy a new cellphone, merchants are cutting prices accordingly.

2. Admission to sporting events is 10.8% cheaper. Many teams are still suffering attendance hangovers from pandemic closings. Logic says ticket deals are being pitched to lure fans back to the ballpark or arena.

3. Televisions are 9.5% cheaper. Everyone bought a new TV — maybe even two — during the stay-at-home periods of the pandemic. With a “back to kinda normal” life, outdoor lifestyles seem like a better investment. And I wonder, how many new TVs do you need?

4. Cruise fares are 5.3% cheaper. I’ll ask a simple question: “Who wants to be stuck in tight quarters with lots of strangers?” Cruises are not high on the popularity list these days.

5. Computer software and accessories are 3.9% cheaper. As more workers and students head back to office or classroom settings, I’ll speculate the need to upgrade or add software to one’s home computers is down.

6. Other intercity transportation — that’s trains and buses, not planes — is down 3.6%. Let’s just say again, crowded conditions are not popular. Operators need to incentivize customers by price.

7. Men’s pants and shorts are 1.6% cheaper. I’m figuring guys working back at the office probably just dusted off clothing they hadn’t worn in two years.

8. Jewelry is 1.2% cheaper. I’ve read millennials are less interested in pricey bling than previous generations. Maybe they’re spending all their money on buying new homes or the high price of rent at fancy apartments.

Glass half-empty

Of those 333 goods and services tracked by the CPI, 39% of all goods and services tracked jumped in price by 10% or more during the 12-month period ended in May.