High crude oil prices, war, the devalued yen, and so on have caused a succession of price rises in goods such as food, clothing, and electrical appliances. There were reports on the news about goods price rises every day when I turned on the TV with announcers giving incredibly detailed information like “Company (XYZ) has lifted the price of (such and such goods) on (such and such a date), by (such and such an amount).” “That’s Japan for you, right!” I thought.
This price spike hasn’t just been in Japan, it’s been happening in Australia too.
Goods prices increased 2.1% over the 3 months from January through March this year and the yearly inflation rate reached its highest point in more than 20 years. But, although goods price increases have been reported on TV in Australia, they haven’t been announcing them for every product in detail, like in Japan, which I guess reflects the Australian national character. So now it’s normal for prices to suddenly rise, and few people are complaining about it. I think people are coming at it with a sense of resignation, just thinking, “Well, what can you do?” and then moving on.
The first thing I noticed coming out of the increase in goods prices was a jump in the prices of gasoline and vegetables. I went to my local morning market to buy some vegetables and noticed that most of the fruit and vegetables were more expensive than before. Leafy vegetables in particular had doubled in price, Chinese cabbage had tripled to the equivalent in Japanese yen of about 880 to 950 a piece.
While people were surprised by the sudden jump in Chinese cabbage and lettuce prices, the soaring increases in the cost of rent, houses, and land these last 2 years have just been incredible, so maybe everyone is kind of paralyzed or not especially worried about vegetables becoming more expensive. For example, as I wrote in a previous article, apartments that used to be $400 a week 2 years ago on the Gold Coast are now $550 to $600, or in monthly terms, they have increased by $600 to $800 (about 56,400 to 75,200 yen)!
And although the minimum wage increases every year, with these increases, the ratio of rent or home loan to income is too high.
Plus, gas and electricity bills increased again in August. Although the increases differ from state to state, in Queensland prices increased up to 18.9%. (By the way, you can freely choose your electricity and gas company in Australia.) They say this is an unprecedented rate of increase in prices.
These increases in daily necessities and food as well as electricity and gas, which people use every day, are hitting big families with children hard. The major supermarkets Coles and Woolworths are running thoughtful campaigns with slogans like “Although prices are increasing, we are lowering ours!”
Most Australians don’t worry too much about keeping close tabs on their spending, but with these fuel price increases, if they continue driving around in big gas guzzling 4-wheel drives, getting takeout coffees every day, and prices continue to increase even further, some of them might just start to get impatient and decide “We’d better start cutting back a bit!” If Aussies started keeping household account books and started getting into the habit of economizing, I wonder if I would be the only one somehow feeling uncomfortable, kind of feeling a little sad about it?
It would be nice to have this price hike spike settle down soon, right.
$9.99 for a Chinese cabbage (or “wombok” at left) and $6.20 for a lettuce at a supermarket, which is twice the price last winter.