Small business owners weigh in on how they are coping with current economy

Consumer confidence has risen over the last couple of months, data shows.

Market reports show the U.S. economy is seeing strong job numbers and a waning inflation rate, but some small business owners tell ABC News they are still feeling the pinch.

When Mia Sakai opened her Chicago bodega in December 2020 she had to deal with the pandemic, supply chain issues and then rising costs of goods -- costs that she passed on to her customers.

Small business owner Mia Sakai opened a bodega in Chicago three years ago.
ABC News

"It's not an easy thing to do, and it's not something we like to do, but we also want to be able to keep our business here and continue to be able to service the neighborhood," Sakai told ABC News.

Rising grocery store prices are one of the reasons why Americans are down on the economy, according to experts.

Between 2019 and 2023, food inflation increased by 25%, faster than other categories like housing, clothes and medical care, according to government data.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told ABC News that she does notice sticker shock when she buys her goods, but said that she doesn't expect that to continue.

"Food prices have largely stabilized. They're not increasing at rapid rates," she said.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks with ABC News.
ABC News

Yellen recently gave a speech in Chicago about the state of the economy and let Americans know that the economy isn't as bad as they think.

The secretary stressed that wages are finally catching up to rising prices.

The typical American household is now spending $1,019 more every month on the same goods and services compared to three years ago, because of inflation, according to economic data from Moody's Analytics, but wages are up an average of $1,072 per month during that time, offsetting the higher prices.

Consumer confidence has slowly been rebounding since a low in June 2022, according to recent surveys, and Yellen suggested that the data shows a shift in the public's sentiment on the economy.

Alexandria Jones, an owner of a Chicago vintage clothes and goods store, however, said she still struggling.

Her landlord increased the monthly rent from $1,400 to $1,750 and she's been unable to hire additional staff.

Small business owner Alexandria Jones speaks with ABC News' Elizabeth Schulze.
ABC News

"Last year, I clocked not being here 11 days out of 365 days because I had to be here," she said.

Paul Ruffino, the owner of Rattleback Records, told ABC News he’s lucky to say business has been steady despite a rise in prices.

He said that the problem with the economy now isn’t as much about the message as it is the messenger. Ruffino said the Biden Administration and other leaders need to get the word out more.

"Unemployment is low, inflation has slowed, so I think that things seem to be moving in the right direction and, hopefully, will continue to," he said.