EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) It’s one of the hardest times to run a business, according to several local business owners feeling the effects of inflation.
For Judy Armendariz, co-owner of Rivas Taco Shop located at 1342 N Zaragoza, inflation has caused them to raise their prices several times.
“The last raise we had was back in April 202, we’re currently working on the numbers now to raise again due to inflation, cost of food, packaging,” Armendariz said.
According to the latest inflation report, the U.S jumped to a 7% inflation rate in the month of December – which marks a nearly 40-year high.
“We’re talking anywhere from 20 cents to almost a dollar depending on the product or supply,” Armendariz said.
Armendariz added it was getting harder to find some ingredients and supplies as well.
“The supply and demand have been difficult in finding things that are either not available and take weeks to be available like the foam cups we use so a lot of times we have to buy in abundance,” Armendariz said.
Tom Fullerton, an economics professor at UTEP, said this challenge is facing businesses everywhere because manufacturing and distribution never really got back in sync following the lockdown recession since April 2020.
“There have been labor market issues because wave after wave of infections leads to a labor shortage that has exacerbated workers who decided benefits of going back to work do not outweigh risk of contracting covid,” Fullerton said.
He said this also contributed to bottlenecking of the transportation system that’s caused further delay in delivering goods.
“It’s hard to imagine any retail operation here in El Paso that doesn’t have anywhere from 5-25% empty shelves because even when they do have the goods delivered they don’t have anyone on staff to stock the shelves,” Fullerton said.
Fullerton said inflation can be problematic for communities like the Borderland.
“Inflation impacts low-income households more and poverty is higher in El Paso and Las Cruces almost more than anywhere,” Fullerton said. “At some point, prices will decline the only problem is with the coronavirus and new variants, it causes more supply chain disruptions which lead to again problems we’ve been observing.”
Armendariz said it’s also affecting how she manages her business.
“Paying employees as well, the minimum wage obviously hasn’t gone up here in Texas but our employees are needing to make more due to the cost of things,” Armendariz said.
She said some customers have noticed the uptick in prices, some questioned why.
“We are lucky is we have a lot of loyal customers, I just want customers to understand that we are doing our best to make sure we are competing with other restaurants and have that price point where it needs to be,” Armendariz said.