PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ If you feel like you’re reaching into your wallet for more money when you checkout at the grocery store, you likely are, according to a local expert.

Johnson and Wales University Advertising, Marketing, and Fashion Merchandising Department Chair Diane McCrohan said the price of groceries has increased since the start of the pandemic.

“From 2020 to 2021, our grocery prices overall increased about 3.5%,” McCrohan said. “Usually in a typical year, we’ll see about .9% of an increase.”

The consumer price index reports that beef prices went up by 2.3% in May and during that same time, meats, poultry, eggs and fish also increased by 1.3%.

There are several factors at play when it comes to the price hikes at supermarkets, according to McCrohan.

“Our transportation costs have gone up, the commodities prices have gone up, and we’re still dealing with the supply-chain stress from the pandemic,” she said. “All of that is factoring into consumers seeing higher prices in the marketplace.”

So what can you do to help cut costs at the checkout? McCrohan said there are two things to keep in mind, including shopping around at different markets to see what each is offering and looking at unit pricing.

“Compare your national brands with your store brands and really look at the difference of what the pricing is,” McCrohan said. “Look at the ingredients … see if there are any ingredient differences and if there aren’t any, go with store brand.”

By the end of this year, McCrohan said grocery prices overall will increase by approximately 2%, but by January 2022, experts predict there will be a slight price drop.

“Once the supply chain, again, kind of evens out and the labor evens out, then we should see a little decrease in the food prices, but it will also be dependent on where our fuel prices go,” McCrohan said.

McCrohan also warned that those who are dining at restaurants should be prepared to spend more than usual since their ingredient prices are also increasing.

“They’re expecting about 3-to-4% increase in restaurants when people go out,” McCrohan said.