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Small Business Owners Already Struggling After Pandemic Now Face Problems Caused By Soaring Inflation

WESTFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Inflation has soared over the past year, and it's affecting the way small business owners operate.

The owner of Ahrre's Coffee Roastery in Westfield says he's been watching his wallet as the prices of certain goods rise.

"Milk prices have gone up considerably. Last February, a gallon of whole milk is $3.35 a gallon. Now it's $4.09 a gallon," Ahrre Maros told CBS2's Meg Baker.

He says the cost of cups has risen too.

"I hope customers understand, when suddenly it's 25 cents more for a cup of coffee or for a latte," Maros said.

Al Lord, a financial expert, says inflation, labor shortages and supply chain issues are causing major challenges for businesses and consumers.

"Looks like everything is gone up across the board. The highest being a 40% annual increase in used cars. But, it's everything from furniture to food to energy," Lord said.

"Small businesses were hit hard by the pandemic. How does this play out for them?" Baker asked.

"It's very painful for small businesses. It's just one more nail in the coffin as they try to recover here. Prices keep going up and it's very hard to pass all the costs onto consumers," Lord said.

The Labor Department says consumer prices jumped 7.5% in January compared with last year, the steepest year over year increase since 1982.

Jessica Walker, of J Walker Salon and Spa in Bernardsville, says she's doing everything in her power to keep pricing stable.

"We have vested relationships with our clients, so we're like a family and it's difficult. So we have a tiered pricing system in place that if someone wants to see a higher level stylist and/or if that stylist has a promotion, they can then see someone who might be a little bit of a lower level," she said.

Walker says she tried to stockpile a lot of products so she has them on hand because of supply chain delays.

"Every product line has had an increase. All of our suppliers, they are struggling to even have the stock," she said. "Gloves, were at $4 a box. Sometimes now they're at $12 or $16 a box, and we have to have these items in order to do business. So it's been really difficult."

Many small businesses raised their wages to attract workers, adding to the economic crunch of staying in business.

Lord says he doesn't see inflation going down any time soon, nor raising housing prices and rent.

CBS2's Meg Baker contributed to this report.

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