US concern rises over grocery spending

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Economics

Nearly three-quarters of American shoppers are more concerned about the cost of groceries than they were six months ago, according to a new study from Health Focus International.

The survey – a follow-up on April’s Grocery Buying in the Current Economy​ – asked 1,000 primary shoppers about how they are dealing with the economic downturn. The results will be of concern to food manufacturers, as more consumers are worrying about grocery spending, even as their attitudes to the economy as a whole have shown the first signs of improvement.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents said they were very or somewhat concerned about the overall economy compared to 87 percent six months earlier.

However, 74 percent said they were more worried about grocery spending, while only one percent said they were less worried. This has led to even more shoppers turning to cost cutting strategies this year, such as cutting coupons, switching from branded to private label products and buying less food.

President of Health Focus International Barbara Katz said: “The extended economic uncertainty has had a very profound and deepening impact on consumer attitudes and behavior. The resulting practice of shoppers using cost cutting strategies could have a lingering impact, irrespective of whether or not economic conditions improve.”

Higher income groups hit

One of the areas that the market research firm said is of greatest concern is that these cost cutting measures have spread into higher income groups. Nearly half of those in households earning more than $75,000 a year said they were using coupons more, up from 15 percent six months ago, and 40 percent said they were buying more store brand foods.

Consumers’ cost cutting strategies include more than one in five (22 percent) trying to eat less food or fewer meals, up from 11 percent in April; buying fewer non-essential items like convenience and snack foods, desserts and candy; and 54 percent of those surveyed said they were cutting down on the quantity of groceries they buy to save money.

Related topics: Suppliers

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