US shoppers cutting back on groceries as food prices surge 13%: survey
Americans are growing more budget-conscious at the supermarket, cutting back on their grocery lists as inflation drives food prices to their highest levels in decades, according to a new survey.
About 24% of US grocery shoppers said they often purchased fewer items than usual in September — up from 15% in October 2021 — even as they dialed back purchases of meat, opted for generic brands and clipped more coupons, according to the survey conducted by Morning Consult.
Shoppers cut down on non-essentials last month amid a 13% surge in “food at home,” or grocery prices, according to the September reading of the Consumer Price Index.
“Purchasing fewer items overall is an increasingly common tactic concerned consumers are employing to save on groceries amid persistent price growth in the category,” Morning Consult food and beverage analyst Emily Moquin said in a blog post.
“Retailers and food & beverage brands alike should take note, as this could be an indication of slowing demand,” Moquin added.
The survey found lower-income households were more likely to buy fewer items, with 27% of shoppers earning $50,000 or less per year cutting back compared to 16% last year. But wealthier households weren’t immune with the trend, as the share of Americans earning $100,000 or more who bought less items hit 19%, up 6% year-over-year.
Shoppers were also more likely to take other budget-friendly measures while food shopping, such as buying generic or store brands, using coupons, cutting down on meat purchases and price-matching at multiple stores.
Morning Consult’s Moquin noted that current shopping trends marked a “stark contrast” compared to the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many Americans were hoarding food items.
“Now, consumers are instead purchasing the necessities and waiting for sales or their next paycheck to purchase any item that won’t be used before their next trip,” Moquin said.
As of Oct. 2, a whopping 72% of US adults said they were very concerned about food-related inflation. Meanwhile, 42% said they were often or sometimes worried their food would run out before they would be able to afford buying more.
The September Consumer Price Index showed increases in food prices across the board, with items such as breakfast cereal up 16.6%, chicken up 17.2% and milk up 15.25%.
Fridge staples butter and margarine spiked 32% year-over-year.
Morning Consult’s survey sampled about 2,000 US adults who held primary or shared grocery shopping responsibilities in their households. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 2%.