By Beth Germano

BOSTON (CBS) – Paint and hardware store owner Todd Zigelbaum never thought he’d get $50 for a can of paint, but that’s what he’s had to charge for premium Benjamin Moore. “If I was ever told I’d sell the can for that much I’d say you’re crazy,” said Zigelbaum.

But it’s because of the increased price he’s paying for the supply. “I’ve never seen increases like this back to back,” he said.

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He’s reluctant to pass on price increases to customers at Town Line Paint and Hardware store in Malden, but just to get the inventory he needs, he has to pay himself. “This morning I spent the first two hours calling to different distribution centers trying to find inventory at any cost,” he said. “It doesn’t matter I need the paint.”

Consumer prices for the month of December rose by 7%, the highest increase in nearly four decades with the biggest increases in housing, used vehicles and food.

Boston College economist Robert Murphy doesn’t believe it’s overall price gouging but companies trying to offset pandemic driven supply issues. “It’s supply and demand and when demand is moving up and supply isn’t meeting it you see a natural movement upward in market prices,” said Murphy.

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Elda Cataldo, shopping at a Revere grocery store said she just spent $105 and her cart is barely full. “It’s crazy I find myself picking stuff up and putting it back. I can’t pay the increase,” said Cataldo.

“Every single item is up at least fifty cents or a dollar. When prices go up, they don’t always come down,” said another shopper Rose.

It’s the customer Todd Zigelbaum worries about. “We don’t want to lose a customer but it’s not just us but every paint store across the market, across the country,” he said.

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Murphy expects these kinds of price increases to last for several months and the Federal Reserve trying to correct it by increasing interest rates more than once this year.

Beth Germano