PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting a 7 percent price increase in goods from December 2020 to December 2021 — the biggest December to December percent change since 1981.

On top of that, more and more holes are beginning to pop up on grocery store shelves as well. Not only are goods more expensive, in some cases they’re harder to find.

Experts said there are a number of factors contributing to the empty shelves and higher prices.

Family and Consumer Science Agent for the Bay County UF/IFAS Extension Office, Melanie Taylor, said some of those reasons include labor and packing supply shortages.

“Well what’s happening is due to the inflation that’s happening right now in our country and has been for the last year or two, prices are quickly going up and what’s happening is that supply chain is bottlenecking in a lot of places,” Taylor said. “You’ve seen a lot of that on the news.”

Piggly Wiggly General Manager, Tom Wester, said labor has been the biggest issue when it comes to keeping the shelves stocked.

“It’s not just at store level, it’s at warehouse level, from the farmers to the distribution centers, they are absolutely having issues getting it into – getting the products into stores,” Wester said.

Both Taylor and Wester said if you want to be able to get everything on your list, plan ahead and don’t panic buy.

“I would not wait until the last minute to keep food in your pantry,” Wester said.

Taylor said looking for BOGO deals could also help mitigate some of the higher costs at the grocery store.

“I mean there are all kinds of deals that are out there to be had it’s just going to take more time to be able to find those deals, put your list together based on those deals, and then figuring out what you’re going to cook for the family and feed your children for lunch at school – that kind of thing,” Taylor said.

Wester said they’ve done everything they can to keep prices low and shelves full.

“We’ve done a pretty good job as a team here,” Wester said. “The store has really stepped up and we’ve managed to do the things necessary to keep product on our shelves and to stay staffed.”

Taylor also suggested putting together a budget to figure out where to cut back spending while prices are high.

“But figure out where you can cut things out,” Taylor said. “It doesn’t have to be in the food area if that’s not what you want to cut out, cut out other things that cost you a lot of money that have also gone up in prices.”

Wester said people hitting the grocery store may not see as much variety on the shelves as many suppliers are focusing on manufacturing and shipping basic items.