Shoppers Adjusting to Inflation by Toggling Between Stores, Mostly Maintaining Order Sizes

New report from FMI and The Hartman Group shows that shoppers are seeking deals across the omnichannel realm
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
FMI trends
Source: "2023 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends Report," FMI/The Hartman Group

When it comes to inflation, consumers are shopping with their eyes wide open. A new "U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends" report from  FMI – The Food Industry Association, conducted by The Hartman Group, affirms that shoppers are aware of and often concerned about inflation but aren't scaling back their orders dramatically. Instead, those affected by high prices are looking for deals where and when they can across the omnichannel realm.

The bottom line remains top of mind for consumers, as 68% noted that they're spending more on groceries than they did last year. Bearing out that sentiment, the data indicated that consumers spent $164 per week on groceries on average in February, up from $148 in both October and February of 2022.  Boomer-age consumers who are more likely to be on fixed incomes and those with families, especially Millennials, are most concerned about food costs, The Hartman Group data found. In fact, an overwhelming 80% of Boomers said that they're worried about food prices, up from 69% in October 2022.

That said, responses to the ongoing state of elevated food prices seemed to be less reactionary and more strategic. According to the survey, about a third (32%) of shoppers who said they're concerned about inflation are buying fewer items as a way to contend with rising prices. That was down from 41% in October.

While basket sizes may be consistent, people are looking for other ways to get the most out of their grocery dollar. The FMI survey revealed that shoppers are seeking discounts across the retail spectrum, adding more stores to their regular rotation and thereby spurring greater competition among grocery stores, mass retailers, club stores and online. In February, for example, consumers shopped at 5.2 stores on average, compared with 4.9 in February 2022.

Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based FMI, said that the research underscores consumers' sentiments about high prices and their propensity to pivot as needed. “This is an opportunity for our industry to continue connecting with shoppers on food inflation-mitigating solutions,” Sarasin observed.

The survey is the first in a five-part "2023 U.S. Grocer Shoppers Trends: Shopping Trends" series of reports from FMI. More information is available online.

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