Inflation is the holiday grinch against our 401ks and charitable giving.

Now we see how much inflation hits our groceries through an illustrative look at the iconic 1990 movie “Home Alone.”

USA Today’s Sara Chernikoff sets the stage:

‘Home Alone’ fans are reminiscing about lower grocery bills after a TikTok video pointed out how much Kevin McCallister spent on his solo shopping trip in 1990 versus what it would cost today.

 

The film follows the antics of the young boy, played by Macaulay Culkin, as he is accidentally left behind by his parents who jet off to Paris for Christmas.

 

As the fictional 8-year-old is left to fend for himself, he makes a trip to the local grocery store to pick up some food, toiletries and household necessities.

 

His bill comes out to about $20. One TikToker estimated that Culkin would spend close to $70 on the same grocery haul if the goods were purchased this year from Target, an increase of 250%.

 

In the film, Kevin buys his groceries at the family-owned supermarket called Rockford Schnucks, located in Illinois.

 

He picks up a half-gallon of milk, half-gallon of orange juice, TV dinner, a loaf of Wonderbread, frozen mac and cheese, liquid detergent, saran wrap, a bag of toy soldiers, Snuggle dryer sheets and toilet paper. McCallister uses a dollar-off coupon for a grand total of $19.83.

 

According to the Schnucks grocery store’s website, here’s how much Kevin’s groceries cost today:

 

Half a gallon of milk: $1.71
Half a gallon of OJ: $3.99
Butternut large white bread: $2.79 (Wonderbread not available)
TV dinner: $4.49 (Stouffer’s classic meatloaf frozen meal)
Frozen mac and cheese: $1.49
Tide liquid detergent: $12.99
Saran wrap: $3.39
Snuggle dryer sheets: $2.94
Toilet paper: $7.99
Toy soldiers (not available so Amazon price listed): $9.99

 

Kevin would have spent a grand total of $54.94 (with Illinois sales tax) in 2023 or $53.94 with his dollar off coupon.

Thanks to the inflation grinch, increased prices are not only hitting consumers, they’re also hitting small businesses, like the family-owned grocery store in “Home Alone.” Goldman Sachs reports that despite some initial reports that consumer spending is up this holiday season, small business owners are being left out in the cold, according to a December 1-8 survey of 337 retail small business owners from Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices

Goldman Sachs reported that 77% said they aren’t seeing an increase in holiday sales this season, and 55% say their profit margins are down this year—a troubling sign during a make-or-break shopping season. 

While Federal Reserve data shows inflation slowing, the pressures continue hurting small business owners. On a personal level, 70% of small business owners said the state of the economy and their financial outlook was negatively impacting their own household’s purchasing power and personal spending plans for their families this holiday season. Eighty-two percent of small business owners said they have been forced to raise prices in the past year, and 66% said they’re finding it difficult to absorb inflationary pressures and keep prices low.

When asked what they attribute the slowdown to, 67% said consumers seemed to have less disposable income, and 67% said the economy is tougher in 2023. Thirty-two percent said they were unable to compete with discounts offered by larger companies, and another 31% said more consumers were shopping online, making it harder to reach them. 

Let’s not forget the genesis of the elevated inflation small businesses and individuals are battling with. Excessive, reckless federal spending on the Biden agenda in 2021 skyrocketed inflation that was around 1-2% before President Biden took office. It will take time for prices to return to their pre-Biden levels—if they ever will.   

So this holiday if you’re reclining in your comfy chair watching the McCallister family drama unfold, know that you’re watching a time capsule when life was simpler due to lower prices and less inflation. And know that you’re not alone in holiday wishing for policy solutions that make life more affordable for everyone.