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How Parents’ Grocery Shopping Habits Differ

FMI finds they’re more likely to shop online, eat at home, cook their own meals, and eat healthy
FMI Trends Report Back to School Main Image
Among the findings in FMI's recent "Back to School" report was that time-pressed parents are making use of online grocery shopping more than most consumers to help manage their schedules.

A recent survey of grocery shoppers’ spending habits and attitudes from FMI – The Food Industry Association has uncovered meaningful differences between the shopping habits of parents and those of consumers in general. 

As families bid farewell to summer fun and gear up for the return to school, FMI’s 2023 U.S. Grocery Shopping Trends 2023 series “Back to School” report revealed that time-pressed parents are making use of online grocery shopping more than most consumers to help manage their schedules. Parents are increasingly opting to use the convenient online shopping options provided by their grocers, with 42% noting a year-over-year increase in frequency for grocery shopping online. As a group, parents are twice as likely to always shop online for their groceries than consumers as a whole, 24% versus 12%.

[Read more: “Retailers Prepare for Back-to-School Season”]

“Whether it’s modifying the grocery list to ensure your children arrive at school charged with a nutritious breakfast, stocking up on the necessary elements for packing school lunches, ensuring there are healthy after-school snacks available, accommodating ramped-up appetites at dinnertime or adapting to more frequent family meals at home, school days dramatically impact American grocery shopping,” noted Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based FMI. “This report takes the mystery out of what happens in the grocery aisles when the school doors open for another academic year.” 

In response to such summer disruptions as record-high temperatures and various extreme weather events, parents changed their spending habits. Of those surveyed, 64% of parents said they had eaten at home more than usual over the past few months, while 53% overall said that they’d eaten at restaurants less often than usual. The report found that parents were considerably more likely to stock up on grocery staples ahead of extreme weather than other shoppers. Similarly, parents were more likely to purchase more bottled water and hydration drinks than shoppers as a whole.

Other findings in the report included the following:

  • Consumers are more likely to eat at home this year than last year, with 63% of parents and 59% of shoppers as a whole noting this shift.
  • 59% of parents said that they’re cooking their own meals more often in 2023.
  • 47% of parents noted an increase in healthy eating, versus just 36% of shoppers overall.
  • 42% of parents said that they’re more likely to depend on frozen foods this year, an increase of 10 percentage points over shoppers in general.

Overall, shoppers expressed a desire to continue many of these trends this fall. More than half of all shoppers said that they plan to eat at home more, while 41% said that they’ll eat out at restaurants less often. With more shoppers intending to eat at home, 44% said that they plan to make their own meals more, while almost a third said they plan to eat more healthfully.

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