DUNN, N.C. (WTVD) -- As the world returns to normal, higher prices at the grocery store could be here to stay.
Early in the pandemic, supply shortages mixed with high demand due to panic buying drove prices of many goods up. But twenty months later, some of those items are still out of stock.
"We bought from vendors we have never bought from before," said Carlie C's president and owner Mack McLamb.
McLamb has worked in the grocery business for four decades -- from stocking shelves to working overtime to make sure prices stay low in his 25 stores statewide.
"You're having to be creative as an independent, and you're having to find ways to accomplish the same tasks," McLamb said. "And build new relationships with people you have never dealt with before."
McLamb said price hikes aren't just caused by supply shortages or panic buying.
"We've had several parts fail all at the same time in the supply chains," McLamb said. "Not only have we had trouble finding enough staffing to operate stores, but manufacturers and our business partners are having the same challenges."
McLamb said that over 60 years, Carlie C's stores have adapted to good and bad times, and supply chains should equilibrate as the economy bounces back.
However, he said he predicts high prices could be here to stay.
"Obviously, nobody can tell exactly, but I think prices and cost of goods is just going up," McLamb said. "I don't think it's going to come back."
Since December 2020, prices have surged on three main products: beef is up 14%, pork is up 12% and poultry is up 6.6%.
Supply shortages, staffing issues cause grocery price hike across North Carolina