Inflation poses new challenge for pandemic-weary businesses

NEW YORK (AP) — Small businesses that endured shutdowns and revenue drops during the COVID-19 outbreak now must contend with another crisis: spiking prices for goods and services that squeeze profits and force many owners to pass the increases along to customers. Surging demand from consumers for a wide range of products during the pandemic has driven up prices for finished goods as well as raw materials, supplies and equipment. Product shortages and bottlenecks in supply chains have added to the costs. Also in the mix: intense competition for workers that has some companies paying more to attract new hires and retain current staffers.