Salute to Spouses Blog

We're excited to be blogging about the latest topics in military life. We want to keep you informed on topics such as current events, education, career advice, etc. Feel free to post comments or questions to any of our entries.
Prices are rising, incomes are not

Have you shopped outside the gate lately? Did you feel a slight sticker shock at the price of even the simplest of items?

That’s because prices are rising and it could be bad news for all of us.

CNN reported that the Consumer Price Index, which tracks the cost of common shopping list items, rose 2.9 percent in June, the biggest jump since 2012. Paychecks, however, have not increased at the same rate. The report also says average hourly earnings only increased 2.7 percent. If you fall in this category, it means you can’t buy more, you are just paying more for what you already buy.

In the same time period, sales at commissaries have fallen 21.3 percent since 2012.

Read that again, the military commissary, which military families have routinely named as the second most valued benefit after health care, is not being used as much by military families.

And as far as the calculator pushers at the federal government are concerned, use it, or lose it.

While both the Department of Defense and Congress don’t want to do away with the commissary, they do want it to cost less, according to

The DOD wants to lower the amount of money it gives for commissary operations from $1.4 billion in 2017 to $400 million by 2021. The only way to do that? Generate more sales.

That won’t happen if more of us are headed out the front gate to do our shopping. Experts say the commissary is also competing with meal order services. And there is the long-standing argument of just how much you save shopping at the commissary vs big box chains such as Walmart.

We would argue the value is enough for all of us to make shopping at the commissary a priority.

Military life is inconsistent. Changes are constant. Move is inevitable. One constant: the commissary. You can rely on the commissary to keep prices constant and affordable, even when you move to a duty station like Hawaii where staples like milk can cost $6 – 8 a gallon in a civilian store.

You also rely on those constant low prices when you leave your job in the next PCS move and your family drops to a one-income household for what could be months. Few other stores outside the gate can help you stretch your dollar as far as the commissary.

The bottom line: shop at your commissary. We guarantee you will miss it when it’s gone.

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