Inflation may be cooling off, but don’t expect the stuff you buy to get cheaper any time soon

After soaring last year, inflation has cooled faster than economists had expected. Still, prices at grocery stores and malls aren’t likely to go down anytime soon.AdvertisementThat’s because the economy and the job market remain hot, despite predictions of a recession. Wages are still rising. Gross domestic product climbed a healthy 2.4 percent last quarter, according to new figures out Thursday. And in a growing economy, consumers will generally continue to spend money, driving up demand and prices.The result is an unpredictable economy that has confounded policymakers and retailers alike.“We’re in a very unique situation,” said Sidhant Rastogi, managing partner of global management and strategy consulting firm Zinnov. “We never had a labor shortage and price increases [at the same time like this], which is why most companies seem to be struggling to predict anything.”And that has upended the strategies of major retailers like Target, Amazon, and Walmart, who had anticipated an economy that would slow considerably this year, possibly into recession. Such an economic downturn would normally dampen sales, leading retailers to cut prices to stimulate demand. Now they wait, unlikely to make any big moves to juice sales until they have a firmer grasp of what’s going on.“Retailers are on pins and needles right now,” said Carol Spieckerman, founder and president of Spieckerman Retai …

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