As temperatures rise, so do grocery and gas prices

Published: Tuesday, June 5 2012 7:08 a.m. MDT

The cost of food and gas rose slightly.

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The cost of groceries crept up in the Salt Lake Valley this month. Despite significant price cuts on a number of supermarket staples, a cart full of popular items, a tank of gas and a weekend outing was just under $2 more expensive than in early May, according to the Deseret News' monthly shopping spree.

A number of popular foods, thanks to sales at a few stores, were less expensive this month than last. Eggs, bread, hamburger meat and Cheerios all dropped moderately in price. Orange juice and Oreos, both typically on the more expensive side, were also cheaper.

In fact the prices of only a few household items, including diapers, laundry detergent, bread and ice cream, rose this month. Bananas, as usual, remained stable, as did the average cost of a large pepperoni pizza ordered to-go.

The overall increase in the cost of the Deseret News' shopping spree, then, is mostly attributable to a bump in gas prices — 10 gallons of gasoline cost nearly a dollar more on June 1 than on May 3.

According to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report from May 29, national average gas prices actually declined from both the previous month and from the same time last year, providing a welcome respite for many Americans traveling over the holiday weekend.

This national trend, however, did not apply to Wasatch Front residents and many other Westerners. According to the report, states west of the Rockies are experiencing "tight gasoline supplies and refinery issues." But while Utah and its neighbors Nevada, Idaho and Montana are seeing month-to-month gas price increases, the cost jumps along the Pacific coast have been considerably more severe.

The Deseret News' shopping cart total has not spiked any month of 2012 thus far, but rather steadily crawled higher. This slow shift seems to reflect the U.S. Department of Agriculture's projections for the year, which predicted the cost of "food-at-home" (which most people would just call groceries) will rise by 2.5 to 3.5 percent overall.

The Deseret News takes a fantasy shopping spree at the beginning of every month, visiting five different popular supermarkets across the Salt Lake Valley to compare prices and find averages. No one store has a monopoly on best or worst prices.

Since its first venture in September 2009, the cost of the cart and the gasoline (as well as its accoutrements, a takeout pizza and a trip to the movies) has risen by 16 percent.

Email: lmarostica@desnews.com

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