Rising Inflation Impacts Businesses & Pittsburgh

Inflation impacts everyone. 9.1% is the largest increase in inflation in 47 years. When inflation was last this high, “Don’t Stop Believin’” was in the Billboard Top 10 and I was just a young child.

Rising Inflation Impacts Businesses & Pittsburgh

So why is inflation increasing? Business leaders in Pittsburgh and throughout the country are asking me this question. The list of reasons is extremely extensive but starts with the pandemic, rising consumer demand, tight supply, labor shortages, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, shipping delays, and rising transportation prices. These variables collectively result in rising prices.

Consider recent data demonstrating price increases:

Energy 41%+
Gasoline 59%+
Airfare 34%+
Use vehicles 7%+
New vehicles 11%+
Food 10%+
Home prices 20%+
Materials for a single-family home 42%+

Numerous economists predict that the annual rate will continue high through the rest of the year and start to taper off around the end of 2022, finally falling to between 4.5 percent and 3 percent.

Depending on the particular asset class and rent roll, the effects on commercial real estate vary. Businesses are altering how they use their space because of the effects of work-from-home policies and the fact that some now have a distributed workforce. Landlords might generally boost rents due to rising inflation and leases expiring, but since so many businesses are still working from home, they are in a bit of a pickle. Although their expenses have increased dramatically as well, they do not want to take the chance of losing the Tenant. Nobody is exempt from the ravages of inflation. Additionally, Landlords are prohibited from lowering rental rates below their debt covenants without the consent of their lender. Did I mention the pickle?

Let’s talk about Pittsburgh and our current market. For quite some time, Pittsburgh’s vacancy was incredibly low. The Pandemic certainly had an impact on demand. Nationally, rent growth fell over the past two years and Pittsburgh is no exception. The good news is that our decline was not as significant as it was nationally. In addition, monthly leasing numbers are beginning to increase. We are optimistic that these numbers will continue to improve.

So how does inflation affect Pittsburgh’s economy and businesses? The good news is Pittsburgh pace of inflation is behind the national trend. The price of goods, product shortages, and the workforce shortage are what is affecting local businesses the most. Pittsburgh has around 60,000 fewer people in the labor market which represents about 5% of the entire workforce.

So, what’s next? I suggest the following:

• Stay positive
• Ask questions and listen to your team
• Share the “why”
• Trim costs where you can
• Right size and/or relocate your space to create a workplace that employees want be in, rather than have to be in
• Proactively find alternatives to curb supply chain impacts
• Manage expectations
• Be more flexible than ever
• Consider the effects that inflation might be having on the other person
• Create a culture to drive employee engagement
• Embrace and accept change

To sum everything up, “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

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