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Inflation Changes U.S. Consumers’ Grocery Shopping Behavior

OVERVIEW OF FIGURES

  • 66% of consumers are more mindful of their grocery spending
  • 85% of Americans are “worried” or “very worried” about inflation
  • 58% think the cost of living will be more expensive in the coming year
  • 46% of consumers say they buy fewer non-essential products
  • 43% look for sales and promotions to treat themselves to their favorite brands

According to a new inflation survey commissioned by advertising consultant NCSolutions, the majority of American consumers say their families have changed the way they buy food with rising prices.

Some 76% of US consumers say their food shopping habits have changed, and almost half (45%) feel they can no longer afford their previous lifestyle.

Additionally, two-thirds (66%) are more careful about how they spend their money.

The data also indicates that a large majority (85%) are “very concerned” or “extremely concerned” about inflation. On the same economic theme, more than half (57%) are concerned about the financial situation of the country, while 47% say they are concerned about the financial situation of their family.

Eight in 10 Americans, or 83%, expect the cost of living to become “a little more” or “a lot more” expensive in the coming year. Sixty-five percent of Americans agree that “my income hasn’t grown as fast at the expense of food, drink and personal care products.”

“For the second time in just over two years, consumers are adopting new grocery shopping behaviors,” said Alan Miles, CEO of NCSolutions, in a statement. “Since the start of the pandemic, they have been trading their favorite brands for what is available. Today, however, value is more often the centerpiece than availability, with consumers selecting brands and products to stretch their budget as much as possible. CPG brands that meet customers where they are both in this time of inflation and as prices fall have the best chance of retaining them over the long term.

The data, which reflects consumer buying trends for CPG products, shows a price increase of almost 13% on average. In a six-year price trend analysis, price increases in 2022 are taking place at an accelerated pace compared to other years. The survey results confirm this, with 58% of consumers believing that the cost of living will be much higher in the coming year and 71% believing that the US economy is in decline.

At the consumer packaged goods category level, there are wide variations in percentage increases.

Compared to just a year ago, six in 10 Americans now think that CPG product packages have gotten smaller but cost the same price. Consumers are still feeling the pressure of supply chain issues, as 69% say there are fewer items of the same product on the shelves. Thirty-six percent of Americans said there was less variety of brands available on shelves today compared to a year ago.

More than half (53%) of US consumers say they find staple foods more expensive; 40% believe a recession will occur in 2023. For almost half of consumers (46%) this means buying fewer non-essential items in the grocery aisle, or for 43% it means buying only the essentials. Seventy-one percent of Americans say rising grocery prices are straining their savings. For other US consumers, rising prices in the grocery aisle mean searching for cheaper brands (45%). Other ways consumers are coping with rising grocery prices are to stock up the pantry (27%) or freezer (26%) or shop closer to home (24% ).

When it comes to consumer favorite brands, tough choices are being made. Sixty percent of consumers seek out cheaper alternatives when their favorite brands fetch a price beyond their budget. Forty-six percent of consumers plan to do without their favorite brands, and 43% of consumers are looking for sales to offset the cost.

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CONSUMER PRIORITIES

Survey respondents were also asked, “When shopping, which products are most important?” The majority ranked:

  1. Affordable products that offer clear value for my money
  2. Find food items that feed their family for multiple meals
  3. Products they know their families will enjoy eating