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Jonathan Levin

Are Prices Too High? Consumers Are Starting to Think So

Americans have demonstrated a surprising willingness to keep spending in the face of inflation, but that may be about to change.

More shoppers are starting to go home empty-handed.

More shoppers are starting to go home empty-handed.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

For most of the year, US consumers have soldiered on in the face of recurrent sticker shock at their favorite retailers, reluctantly paying up for name brands and sometimes switching to cheaper options rather than go home empty-handed. But a consumer rebellion against inflation is brewing, and spending may be in for a sluggish period ahead.

Last month, the net share of sticker-shocked shoppers who walked away instead of making purchases rose to 9.9% from 8.7% in August, according to Morning Consult survey data from its nationally representative monthly panel of 2,200 US adults, which is weighted to reflect the product categories in the consumer price index. Many consumers also continued to trade down at high rates.