Research Uncovers That Less Will Be More for Consumers

Despite optimism going into 2023, newly frugal shoppers worry about food insecurity, high prices
Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
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Shopper in Parking Lot Main Image
Attest found that the pandemic increased adoption of online shopping among older consumers, but Gen Xers and Boomers are returning to brick-and-mortar stores.

Consumer research platform Attest has released new data on the retail trends that it believes will shape 2023. According to the data, a majority of American consumers (64%) are feeling optimistic about the coming year, while 16% feel pessimistic. In fact, positive sentiment fell just two points from last year’s data. 

The data’s key findings for the retail industry include the following: 

1. Shoppers pull back on spending plans for 2023. 

  • When asked how they’re spending money going into the new year, most (59%) said that they’re pulling back, while 22% said that they’re spending “freely.” There was a 5.4-point increase in “fairly cautious” spending from last year, and a 4.7-point increase in “very cautious” spending. 

[Read more: "Which CPG Categories Are Currently Experiencing the Most Inflation?"]

2. Food insecurity is consumers’ biggest concern, while 86% are affected by price rises.

  • Despite most being optimistic for 2023, food insecurity topped the list of Americans’ biggest worries for next year, at 24%, followed by rising gas prices (17%), political upheaval (15%) and unaffordable energy bills (10%). 
  • Further, 86% of shoppers said that the rising cost of food is affecting what they eat. Of this 86%, more than a third (34%) said that rapid price rises are having a “big” effect. 
  • The top issue cited by shoppers was being able to afford fresh quality foods like meat, fruit and vegetables (41%), followed by 39% who struggle to afford to eat out, 34% who can’t buy their preferred brands, and 33% who are unable to stretch their budgets to buy such “luxury” items as steak or olive oil. 

3. Older shoppers are returning to stores and Amazon rules online. 

  • The pandemic increased adoption of online shopping among older consumers, but Gen Xers and Boomers are returning to brick-and-mortar stores. Almost 41% of Gen Xers said that they now “mostly or always” shop in physical stores, as did 44% of Boomers. Younger shoppers, meanwhile, still favor online, with 36.3% of Gen Zers and 39.5% of Millennials saying they “mostly or always” shop online. 
  • Attest’s data also showed that a net 11.1% of consumers plan to increase their shopping on Amazon in 2023.

4. Unbridled consumerism is going out of fashion, with thrift shopping on the rise.

  • 43% of consumers said that they’re buying fewer things and consuming less, a 9.6-point increase from last year. 
  • 38% of consumers said they’ll be seeking second-hand bargains to combat the rising cost of living, followed by 37% of consumers who intend to sell their unwanted items. 
  • A net -10.4% of consumers said that they’ll buy fewer fast-fashion items in 2023. 

Noted Jeremy King, CEO and founder of New York- and London-based Attest: “As we enter the new year, Attest’s research finds the American consumer in an important and high-value state of flux. Over half of shoppers are pulling back on their overall spending, affecting everything from where and how they shop to what they eat.” 

Added King: “Significant behavioral changes are taking root also. Frugality is on the spectrum between necessary and contemporary – finding new ways to save is becoming an American pastime. This research paints a picture of Americans trying to react to worsening economic conditions – with tectonic shifts in consumer expectations, perceptions, channels and value – meaning brands now more than ever need to be on top of the changing needs and wants of consumers to succeed.” 

Attest’s research is found within the third annual “U.S. Consumer Trends” report, which tracks sentiment and behaviors ahead of the new year, based on the responses of 2,000 nationally representative working-age U.S. consumers.

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