With students in some parts of the U.S. already in classrooms and others about to return, concerns about inflation and food accessibility remain high, according to new research from FMI–The Food Industry Association.
The U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2022 report revealed that 61% of consumers said they were concerned about rising prices, up 8% from February of this year. Additionally, 90% of shoppers expressed concern about some aspect of food accessibility.
Shoppers’ worries about rising prices are focused on essential items, including gas (77%), food (72%) and housing (59%) costs. Households with children are concerned about rising prices on school supplies (64%) and clothing (65%). Even though shoppers say they are feeling pinched, they do express control over aspects of their household budget, particularly eating out (91%), grocery shopping (86%) and, for households with children, childcare (87%).
“Our research substantiates that the food industry offers safe, healthy, quality foods, such as store brand products, at affordable price points and provides shoppers other helpful resources to stretch their grocery budgets, helping meet their household’s specific food needs,” said Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of FMI.
Despite the higher prices, shoppers reported spending about $12 a week less on groceries as compared to February 2022, with the average outlay at $136. FMI officials said this is partially a seasonal effect, with consumers eating out more during summer months, but it also indicates belt-tightening behaviors. Shoppers seem to believe they are succeeding at bringing their grocery spending under control, hitting a lower ongoing weekly total, as they adjust their overall household budgets.
In response to rising prices, consumers are changing their habits. According to FMI, 49% of shoppers said they are looking for deals, 41% are buying more store brands, 37% buying fewer items, 23% buying in bulk and 22% increasing the use of store loyalty programs.
Consumers are also seeing different benefits from shopping in-store or online. While in store, shoppers can make adjustments at the shelf (61%) and save on shipping/delivery (57%). When grocery shopping online, shoppers report they can better monitor basket size (64%) and save on gas (62%).