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Pandemic Shopping Habits Are Giving Inflation Experts a Headache

  • Old benchmarks fail to capture Covid shifts in consumption
  • Researchers are finding it harder to gather price data online
Americans have been spending more on food at grocery stores.

Americans have been spending more on food at grocery stores.

Photographer: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg
Updated on

Financial markets are obsessed with where inflation is headed. Statisticians are struggling to figure out where it’s at.

The pandemic has created major headaches for the people whose job it is to determine the rate of inflation right now, and set the benchmarks that will be used to measure it in the future. They face two fundamental problems.