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Inflation Hits 40-Year High, and the Price of This Is Americans' No. 1 Concern (Hint: It's Not Gas Anymore)

Americans' consumer habits are changing in response to mounting inflationary pressures.

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Inflation is the highest it's been in about 40 years, and it's forcing U.S. consumers to adapt, CNBC reports.

The price of gas was Americans' greatest concern amid inflationary pressure at one point, with the national average cost skyrocketing to a record high, but the price of another item has made its way to the top of the list now: food.

According to a survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Alpha Foods, 90% of Americans are worried about food prices.

"Initially concern was highest around gas prices, followed by groceries and other forms of discretionary spending," said Abbey Lunney, managing director at The Harris Poll. "But in the last couple of weeks groceries have become the No. 1 concern for Americans."

Related: 4 Ways to Protect Your Business From Inflation

The Consumer Price Index report for May revealed that the food at home index climbed 11.9% over the past 12 months — the largest jump since the period ending April 1979 — and the food away from home index rose 7.4% in the last year. Though food has displaced gas as Americans' top inflation concern, the same report showed the energy index increasing a staggering 34.6% year over year.

To make up for the soaring everyday prices, Americans are switching up their strategies in the grocery store. Per the Harris Poll survey, more than half of respondents stated that increasing meat prices encouraged them to give plant-based and dairy options a chance. Others are compensating by making fewer trips to the store or passing on favorite brands.

Americans might be willing to cut back on meat and other high-priced items to save their wallets, but there's still one category where spending is as consistent as it's ever been: alcohol. "Spending on alcohol has remained consistent so far," Lunney said.

Related: Inflation Is a Risk for Your Business, But Doesn't Have to Spell Doom

Following an inflation report revealing a rapid acceleration in prices and record-low consumer sentiment, The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 800 points, or 2.5%, and the S&P 500 fell 2.8%, per CNBC.

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