FMI's new holiday report underscores the current climate of caution and a more positive future.
There are some silver linings in the forecast for the upcoming holiday season, according to FMI - The Food Industry Association. FMI’s "U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends, Holiday Season" report echoed other recent projections that grocers have reason to feel cautiously optimistic heading into the end of the year and beginning of the next.
For one thing, people continue their habit of cooking at home, with 31% of survey respondents reporting that they are preparing meals at home more often, nearly four years after pandemic-related shutdowns spurred major changes in buying and eating behaviors. Looking ahead to the short-term future, 53% plan to eat at home more in 2024.
Also reflecting entrenched cook-at-home behaviors, the report revealed that 60% of shoppers are eating out less and only 14% say they plan to dine out more next year. As they manage their food allocation, a good number – 20% – are actually buying more groceries in an effort to manage their food spending.
Specific to the season that’s pretty much in swing right now, FMI noted that more than 80% of consumers are excited for the holidays this year. Several (18%) are planning to invite more people to their celebrations than usual, again reflecting post-pandemic positivity.
“While consumers are understandably concerned about their finances amidst continued inflation heading into the holidays, shoppers are proving to be just as resilient when it comes to preparing for their holiday meal celebrations,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based FMI. “From looking for deals, shopping around at different stores and cooking more meals at home, shoppers remain excited for the holidays despite planning to ‘make do with less’ this year.”
Sarasin highlighted another trend of note among shoppers as they head into a busy season and look to a new calendar year. “Interestingly, while shoppers tell us they are saving money by going out to eat less, they are also taking advantage of expanded foodservice options at their local grocer. Shoppers are increasingly enjoying ‘hybrid’ meals that pair food made at home alongside semi- or fully- prepared items from the grocery store. This hybrid approach can offer shoppers tremendous value during this hectic season by offering convenience and affordability for any holiday meal celebration,” she added.