EconomyFinancialMany Mexicos: How inflation affects different social classes differently

Many Mexicos: How inflation affects different social classes differently

Inflation is a reality that hits the entire population; however, its impact and affectation may be greater or less depending on the social or economic status of each family or person.

The rise in prices in Mexico reached its highest level since January 2001 and exceeded market expectations by registering a growth of 8.16% at an annual rate in the first half of July, reported this Friday the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi). ). In addition, it is expected that the in the national month.

In the case of food, there are 13 months of consecutive increases in these goods and the pockets of those with fewer resources suffer more than those with better perceptions.

The 10% of the poorest households in Mexico have an income of about 3,300 pesos per month and spend more than 50% of this on the purchase of food. In contrast, the 20% of households with the highest economic perceptions in the country allocate only 28.5% of their money to buy food, according to data from the National Survey of Household Income and Expenses (ENIGH) 2020, from Inegi.

To document the differences in the impact of inflation according to purchasing power and how Mexicans deal with it, Expansión accompanied three families, with a significant contrast in income , to make their purchases.

In the first case, the monthly economic perception is below the threshold of the minimum wage and is the one on which most people depend: four.

The intermediate case, the income is around 35,000 pesos per month, with which three people are supported. Finally, the family with the highest income receives up to 60,000 pesos per month, on which two people who are on their way to retirement depend mainly.

Fight inflation fairly

It’s Tuesday and housewife Miriam Suastégüi Pérez is getting ready to go shopping at the La Campestre tianguis, located in the neighborhood of the same name in the municipality of Nezahualcóyotl, State of Mexico.

As we board the passenger truck that circulates both through the municipality of Nezahualcóyotl in the State of Mexico, and some neighborhoods in Mexico City, the woman shares that her pantry for the preparation of her food is carried out three to four times a week. week, and for this he allocates between 300 to 600 pesos. “Vegetables are the main thing that I buy throughout the week, since I buy tomatoes, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, more than anything.”

“And if I go out to the tianguis, I look for the offers that also vary and depend on the place, the quality of the vegetables or the fruit,” says the 39-year-old woman and mother of two minors.

The housewife shares that inflation has forced her to decide between one product or another, “for example, if I had 200 pesos a day, I could cook a complete meal consisting of soup, stew, rice and beans, but with the price increase, or I buy the beans or the rice, one of the two”.

“Beans are expensive, and I buy American-style beans in bulk. Another example is the oil, and that I consume the economic one, but this one already costs 38.50 pesos”, he expresses.

“The lemon güerita is down!”, “Come on, here are the barateros!”, Are some of the cries of the merchants who seek to attract customers.

In the midst of the hubbub, Miriam comments: “You have to see the quality of the vegetables and fruit, some are of very good quality, but the prices are not displayed, and there are offers like this two-kilo prickly pear for 16 pesos , but it is already very ripe, about to spoil”.

On this occasion he does not buy meat, he prefers to buy it in butcher shops in his neighborhood, and his family only consumes it once a week; Before the pandemic, this happened up to two times.

The livelihood of her family is her husband, who drives a pedicab in a popular neighborhood in the municipality of Nezahualcóyotl, and whose monthly income is approximately 2,000 pesos.

The Mérida Suastégüino family receives no type of government support and their income is generated daily and depends on the work of the head of the family.

An economist and an anthropologist do the super with their baby

“It’s curious. In the Faculty we study inflation, its history, we know how to measure it. But we had never really experienced it. Until now. It is not the same to be told that purchasing power has fallen so much in 25 years as to be told that in one year your salary has been devalued by 10% or more,” says Ernesto, an economist who graduated from UNAM, as he walks through the corridors of the supermarket, looking for the 3 for 2 of the ‘Julio Regalado’, the season of offers of La Comer.

While Ernesto pushes the cart towards the meat area, his wife Karina guides the stroller in which their daughter sleeps. And, when she is about to eat some frozen strawberries, Ernesto interrupts her. “This no. They are expensive. We better look for them at Costco.” Karina nods and when they are asked why they don’t buy strawberries at the tianguis or in the market, instead of frozen strawberries whose price at La Comer is 250 pesos, they answer: “the quality is different.”

Karina, an anthropologist and doctoral candidate at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, receives a student scholarship and a salary as a professor at the UNAM School of Social Work.

Ernesto works on a consulting project for a Non-Governmental Organization that is dedicated to rebuilding schools and strengthening community ties in areas that were affected by the 2017 earthquake and that have not been properly attended by any government.

In the meat department, the two argue about what kind of cut to buy. If it is better to buy chicken here or in the businesses that are close to your home, in the Modern neighborhood of Mexico City. “We already realized that the chicken from the supermarket gets smaller when it is cooked, and the one from the chicken shop is bigger,” says Ernesto, suggesting better beef and pork.

Inflation does not prevent them from continuing to consume this type of animal protein, but yes, pork is cheaper, says the couple. The cart walks filling with vegetables, fruits and a box with several liters of milk.

Inflation takes their time

They do not like to visit the supermarket frequently, they would prefer to do the pantry every month. If it could. In this, inflation has hit them. Before, they went to Costco and bought a pantry that cost them at least 5,000 pesos, but that kept them from coming back for a month. Well, they bought packages of rolls, gallons of oil, canned goods and enough meat for a month that they put in the freezer.

Now it is no longer possible, “it is expensive”. And they have to make smaller pantries, which last a week or 10 days.

And although inflation tightens, not long ago they bought a “kitchen robot”. “There you put everything he asks of you and he already takes it out cooked.” It is an appliance that not only squeezes, cuts, fries or mixes food, it is also used to bake cakes or make homemade bread. “Since we bought it, we kind of forgot about thinking about what to eat or what to cook,” says Ernesto proudly about his robot.

Fewer red fruits and fewer bottles of wine

Although they continue to consume meat and all the food groups, they did stop buying as many berries as before. They also buy fewer and fewer bottles to toast and drink almost no beer.

Suddenly, Ernesto finds some cheap bottles of wine, at 3 for 2. “I’ll take this (…) I met him when I went to Chile, it’s cheap, but it tastes good. And since I saw that everyone was drinking it there, well, I also got used to it,” he says as he arranges the bottles in his cart, his only luxury.

Aside from eating more pork and less beef, Ernesto and Karina have a couple of tricks to save money without sacrificing so much their satisfaction in the consumption of goods.

In addition, they choose the cereal with less sugar, because it is always cheaper and they no longer buy sweets like peanuts or chocolates. “It’s an ant expense” and they prefer to save to go out to dinner at a restaurant later.

“This is the kid”

There is a 3 for 2 promotion on certain brands, but not for the brand preferred by both. Karina decides not to take advantage of the offer. There are certain products that they are used to, again, because of the quality, taste or, in this case, the effectiveness in cleaning clothes and the aroma.

Nor do they change the quality of the toilet paper for anything, which is also on sale. They choose the best, the thickest, and add three packages of 18 rolls each to the cart. “This is cool, one and you’re done!” exclaims Ernesto, satisfied with his purchase.

Fewer worries heading into retirement

Some manage to overcome crises with fewer scratches, such is the case of the Gómez family, whose monthly income of between 50,000 and 60,000 pesos places them as privileged in Mexico, although 95% is contributed by one person.

Both Daniel Gómez and María Espino are professionals, he develops in the field of architecture, while she has a degree in Public Accounting, although she no longer practices but continues to work on her own as a salesperson.

Although most of the income goes to the father of the family, who is already within the age group of older adults, the person in charge of the day-to-day purchases is his wife, due to the availability of time during the week.

The couple explains that they buy most non-perishable supplies at Walmart and Costco, although they occasionally visit Chedaui and Sam’s, therefore, they have paid memberships to the two largest warehouses. For perishables, they prefer to go to their local market and rarely visit a flea market, an activity they have stopped doing over time.

“It’s true that there was a season when I went to the flea market, because there you can get better prices and sometimes fresher things, but the truth is that it’s already very tiring for me and I’d better go for the practical,” he says.

According to what he shares, visits to the supermarket are two to three times a month, with an average cost of 2,500 pesos per month, in this case, they take advantage of the provision of grocery vouchers that Gómez has, which cover a part of the account. While market purchases are made every third day.

We accompany you to Costco and Walmart to do your shopping. In both stores they stocked up with a good variety of products because, in addition to the basic basket’s own supplies, at Costco they added a cake, cold meats such as Serrano ham and chorizo to the cart. At Walmart, disposables, bottles of wine and snacks, since they took advantage of their visit to get some products for a birthday celebration.

As they walk through the aisles, they comment that they have noticed a general increase in the value of the products they buy, but that does not stop them from buying things from the brands they like or opting for cheaper ones.

On their tour they stop to see products that were not included in their original plans and select some that they put in the cart. “I also fancy some beers and you have to bring some popcorn to watch movies, right?” says Daniel Gómez and María Espino nods.

“Part of the fact that we can invest in some things, I mean this ‘economic freedom’ that we have up to a certain point, the truth is that the children (her three children) are already supporting themselves. They have their job and they pay for their things, although we still buy them a little detail or go out to eat, it’s something that happens from time to time. It is not like when you had to pay for schools, school supplies, clothes, uniforms, food and transportation. They are now independent and we are preparing to retire,” says Mrs. María Espino.

In addition to food-related purchases, there are other services that continue to pay on a regular basis, such as a housemaid once a week, and they are also paying the credit of what they plan to be their retirement home.

In general, the couple points out that inflation has not caused them to change their consumption habits; however, they did point out that on past occasions when the country’s economy was not favorable, they did make adjustments to maintain their standard of living and save despite the passage of time and crises, such as finding other jobs or working overtime, something that They consider it had an important influence so that today they can overcome this moment without setbacks.

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