6 things you'll pay more for in 2012

Everything from airfare to cotton clothing is going to cost more this year. So book your flights and buy your jeans now or else you'll be doling out some serious cash.


Not only does it already cost more to fly than it did a year ago, but airfares are only going to continue to climb in 2012.

"My overall prediction is that we're going to see a 10% to 15% average increase in domestic and international airfares [this year]," said Harlan Platt, a finance professor at Northeastern University's College of Business Administration in Boston.

Meat and fish

Higher prices for groceries will be enough to kill most consumers' appetites in 2012, especially since shoppers already had to stomach some substantial price hikes last year.

"Just about all items are up -- but the biggest ones are the center of the plate foods like beef, pork and seafood," said Brian Todd, president of the Food Institute, a nonprofit research group in Elmwood Park, NJ.

Soaring demand coupled with the high cost of fuel is weighing on seafood prices, while the increased cost of corn and feed is pressuring farmers to pass on their added expense, Todd explained.

Expect prices to rise another 4% this year -- after last year's 8% increase, he said.


In addition to your meals costing more, your mocha java will, too.

Wholesale coffee prices have been on a tear for two years, rising 18% last year alone. That means that consumers are going to get a jolt when they pick up a pound of their favorite blend or even just a cup of joe.

This month, Starbucks already started charging more for its coffee drinks in the Northeast and Sunbelt regions, blaming the increase on the rising cost of coffee beans and other ingredients.


Gas prices are poised to skyrocket in the months ahead, particularly over tensions in the Middle East.

"There's definitely a risk for prices to rise above $3.50" in the first half of the year, according to Phil Thompson, manager of market analytics at Mobius Risk Group, a firm that advises energy producers and big energy consumers. That's up 5% from the current average of $3.32 a gallon.

But weak demand, because of high unemployment and stagnant wages, will temper any long-term pricing pressure, he said.


As the financially troubled U.S. Postal Services tries one measure after another to cut costs, including closing post offices, mail processing plants and even slashing Saturday mail service to remain afloat, higher mail prices are guaranteed for delivery in 2012.

Starting on Jan. 22, the cost of a first-class stamp will rise to 45 cents from 44 cents, while priority mail prices will jump 3.1% and the cost of using express mail will be 3.4% higher.

On the upside, forever stamps won't require any additional postage, despite the new prices. "They will be good after January and a hundred years from now," said David Partenheimer, USPS spokesman.


"Look for the average apparel product to be raised about 8% to 10%," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at the market research firm NPD Group.

The biggest hikes will be on cotton clothing, like underwear, socks and jeans, he said. As farmers favored the higher returns from soybeans and corn, last year's cotton shortfall sent prices through the roof. While that might mean paying just a dollar more on $20 jeans it could translate into a $20 hike on popular premium denim that typically costs upwards of $150 a pair.


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