While we like to focus on saving money and falling prices, it's important to recognize when certain items are, conversely, becoming more expensive. And unfortunately, consumers can expect select electronics, smartphones, cars, and food to cost more in the coming year. Thanks to mature technologies, a lack of innovation, higher prices for precious metals, added features, and a drought, 2013 looks like it will be just a little more costly.
Each year, we here at dealnews take a look at items that are expected to cost consumers more in the coming year, and it seems as if some prior trends are finally coming to an end – the price of gold may finally hit its peak in the next few months – while the cost of a college education is still on the rise. Luxury goods continue to command an ever-increasing premium, and one new hot commodity – copper – could be problematic for home owners and beer drinkers alike.
Fuel Efficiency Ratchets Up the Cost of Cars
Gas prices may be falling, but cars that run on it are getting more expensive. Earlier this year, the Obama administration issued new standards that require automakers improve fuel efficiency, and the cost of upgraded engines alone is driving up prices. Toyota hiked prices on its mid-size Camry by roughly $175, and among best selling luxury vehicles, the 2013 Lexus CT 200h will be almost $3,000 more than the 2012 model.
Grocery Prices to Increase by as Much as 4%
Meat, poultry, and dairy prices are all expected to rise thanks to this summer's drought. Feed corn and grass were most effected, and the impact from their scarcity will soon be felt at the grocery store: price increases will hit right along with the new year. Since drought conditions forced farmers to reduce the size of their herds to combat higher feed costs, the price of beef and chicken is also slated to rise. The cost of dairy products, too, will be affected, as fewer and leaner cows produce less milk. Overall, the USDA expects food prices to rise 3.5% to 4% in 2013.
Grain Prices Affected by Drought
Cereal and bakery product prices will rise too, as a result of the 2012 drought and lower wheat yields. Prices in this category began creeping up in October, and the USDA's Economic Research Service forecasts cereal and bakery product prices to rise 2.5% to 3.5% next year.
Health Care Premiums on the Rise
Obamacare not withstanding, employee health care premiums are expected to rise an average of 6% in 2013, according to Aon Hewitt, a human resource consulting firm. That amount will vary by state and type of plan, but overall, employers will face higher premiums and the increased cost will be passed along in part to employees.
High-End TVs and Home Theater Systems Hit New Highs
While there will always be budget home entertainment options, folks who want the latest and greatest in this department will face some shockingly high price tags in 2013. According to Jeff Joseph, spokesman for the Consumer Electronics Association, Ultra HD TVs — which include an extremely high pixel density — sell for $20,000 to $25,000. High-end audio manufacturers too aren't holding back, as they incorporate premium features like Apple Airplay or standard DLNA that lets users control the entire system wirelessly. These features can drive up the cost of AV equipment in an instant.
Computers Push High-End Features
As tablets continue to gain momentum in the consumer electronics realm, computers are returning to their original function as work-related machines — albeit more powerful and expensive. According to Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at The NPD Group, Apple's new notebooks with retina displays are among the highest-priced models out there, and Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows 8, is driving the adoption of premium touchscreen PCs.
Even geeks and gamers could see higher prices, as Intel plans to release processors that are soldered onto motherboards in 2013, rendering them un-upgradeable. This would make DIY upgrades to a desktop machine impossible, forcing the computer-savvy to opt for a custom configuration from the manufacturer, which is, as a general rule, more expensive then getting a deal on the boxed CPU and replacing it on your own.
Copper Will Be in Demand and Beer Prices Will Suffer
Move over gold, it's copper's time to shine! Copper prices could be on the rise thanks to a move by the SEC to approve a fund to trade the metal. The fund could lead to scarcity and higher prices, as it did for gold. The problem is that copper is used in plenty of consumer items, including residential water pipes, wire, pots, and kettles, as well as equipment for brewing beer, distilling liquor, and making candy.
T-Mobile to Drop Subsidies for Smartphones
The U.S. smartphone market has long been subsidized by service providers, offering phones at reduced prices with the signing of long-term contracts. In 2013 T-Mobile will eliminate the subsidy and charge full price for its phones. While there's evidence to suggest that the carrier will in turn allow users to opt for cheaper service rates (thus saving money in the long run), the pill of a full-price phone may be hard for many to swallow.
Services from Daily Deals Will Become Scarce
In spite of lots of bad press, the daily deal isn't dead yet. It will, however, continue to evolve in 2013. Too many competitors and not enough profits are forcing these sites to focus more on product deals, lead by Groupon Goods. It therefore may become difficult to find deals on services. If you're accustomed to scoring cheap spa vouchers, for example, it may become harder to find such discounts next year, as daily deal sites will list fewer such offers and instead opt for tangible products — leaving you to pay full-price for your indulgences.
Tuition Goes Up as States Can't Subsidize University Expenditures
While tuition costs are always on the rise, state schools in particular are feeling the pinch. As education costs continue to increase, many states will no longer be able to subsidize much of its students' tuition costs. Meanwhile, student aid and grants aren't rising commensurate to costs, which means university expenditures — more administrators, new dorms, and additional property — will get passed along to students. Tuition and fees for private universities aren't increasing as much in 2013 as they have in recent years, but they are expected to rise for public 4-year colleges. Students can expect in-state tuition to increase 4.8% and fees to rise 3.7%, according to the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center.
iPhone 5 Accessories Will Be Costlier Than Previous Generations
Although there have been several iterations of the iPhone at this point, one thing had remained the same for several years: the dock connector. Thus, unlike cases that are outdated with the slightest change in form factor, iPhone dock accessories remained largely universal across new models. But the iPhone 5 features a radically different Lightning connector, resulting in a fleet of brand new accessories that have no prior-generation alternatives — which means premium prices. These higher prices debuted in late 2012, and they will continue in 2013 until manufacturers begin releasing updates to these items.
Shipping Costs on the Rise
While somewhat unsurprising, 2013 will see a 4.5% to 4.9% hike in shipping costs from both UPS and FedEx, the latter of which is slated to raise rates beginning January 7. Higher shipping costs may affect customers who predominately shop from "independent" sellers, like those found on eBay, etsy, and the like, but it may also have an impact on retailers that presently offer free shipping. Since merchants end up paying for the handling and delivery of orders that "ship free," the increased UPS and FedEx rates may affect the frequency of, and threshold at which, online orders receive free shipping in 2013.
Does all this talk about rising prices get you down? Be sure to shop wisely by setting up a dealnews email alert for the specific products and categories that are important to you, so you know immediately when we see a good deal. You can also stay tuned for next week's followup to this piece that details things that will be less expensive in 2013.