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'It's still difficult': As inflation slightly drops, small businesses react to economy

Small biz inflation reactions
Posted at 6:29 AM, May 17, 2024

RAYTOWN, Mo. — Inflation continues to be a problem for consumers and small businesses.

A report from the National Federation for Independent Businesses showed its small business optimism index is up for the first time this year.

Overall, inflation is down nationally from the 9.1% high seen in April of 2022. The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the Consumer Price Index rose 3.4% year over year in April, down from 3.5% in March.

How does that feel for small businesses in Jackson County?

Clark’s Appliances is a long-time family business in Raytown. Owner Pam Clark said her business went from thriving during the pandemic to a major slow-down because of interest rates and inflation.

“We're begging for work. It's better. It's getting a little better each week, but it's still difficult. I cross my fingers every day that it's gonna start changing. I’m hoping summer brings a difference,” Clark said.

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She noted that when she looked back at prices for appliances, the increase is not nearly as significant as consumers are seeing on other essentials like food.

In downtown Lee’s Summit, Local Foundery is also feeling some inflation woes. Owner Ben Wine said right now business is good because of the Kansas City Royals and Kansas City Chiefs keeping customers wanting fan gear. He said they have seen increases on soda and shipping costs. It has caused them to be creative in other areas to avoid passing it all on to the shopper.

“Just keeping prices a little bit lower, you know, we take a little bit less margin on certain things. Some of our shirt designs we've done less colors on or less intricate designs, just to try and keep the cost down. So we kind of stay competitive,” Wine said.

Both Wine and Clark credit that they made it through tough times thanks to people choosing to shop local and they continue people to choose to stimulate local economies.