San Antonio Chamber of Commerce CEO discusses inflation impact on local economy

It’s not just small businesses feeling the economic pain

SAN ANTONIO – We are seeing inflation at the grocery store, the gas station, and the car dealership, so what has that meant for local families and local businesses?

Richard Perez, president and CEO of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, joined Leading SA to break it all down.

”Families are feeling pinches. Right. I mean, even my own family, you know, my wife and I yesterday were at the grocery store and we usually spend, you know, 50 bucks. You know, she just her and I together to get some necessities. We were at $80. And that is happening all over the city in large families, small families. And so as a result, people have had to modify their spending, you know, instead of filling up their gas tank, maybe they’re putting in a quarter gas tank and they’re definitely cutting back other spending. So it is squeezing families and it is a tough time right now,” Perez said.

It’s not just families, businesses are navigating these rising prices as well.

”Businesses are still trying to bulk up and kind of get where they used to be. So inflation is just another whammy on them. You know, the cost of materials, the inventory, labor has been such a challenge with people still figuring out whether they’re going to come back to work or changing jobs entirely, which has caused costs to rise. So it has put a real strain on small businesses. You know, they’ve had to modify their hours of operation and they really had to rethink how to maximize their ability to serve their customers. So it’s an odd time for businesses as well as consumers,” Perez said.

It’s not just small businesses feeling the economic pain.

”The travel and tourism industry, they are still suffering immensely, although we’ve had a great spring break and, you know, Fiesta and things like that, which helped to bulk them up. But still, they are not anywhere near 2019 numbers. And people, of course, are still warming up to the fact of wanting to travel so that they’re still suffering. The automotive industry, they are still struggling with supply chain issues. You know, there’s a chip shortage. You know, you see any lot, pretty much new cars in this city. And the lots are empty. They’re not able to bring enough vehicles in. And there is demand. But the ability to crank those cars out is a challenge right now,” Perez said.

In the midst of the pandemic we saw a lot of programs in place to help small businesses, but what about now?

”The city and the county have done great to help bulk up small businesses, in particular during the worst times of the pandemic. But now organizations like the Lift Fund, they’re available to help small businesses with funding loans, that sort of thing. And then the UTSA and the Small Business Development Center at UTSA has a great program that helps small businesses with things like developing a business plan, exploring market segments, and they can even help you do financing as well. So there are indeed many resources out there to help small businesses. But the other thing that we need is for prices to get back down so customers can get out and begin to buy,” Perez said.

The big question that has economists and the federal reserve worried about is when we can see prices stop rising.

”I will say that I see strong signs every single day. You know, people are coming back downtown. People are utilizing the convention center and restaurants. It’s hard to say exactly when. But I will say that we are on the right track if we can get a handle on inflation and people can get their confidence back, I think it’s just a matter of months,” Perez said.

About the Author:

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.