Holiday grocery spending on the rise, Acosta finds

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Acosta
Source: Acosta
Nearly three-quarters of US consumers will host a meal or a party this holiday season, and to ensure their guests leave jolly and full 57% of shoppers say they will spend more on groceries during this season than last, according to a new study by Acosta. 

The uptick in grocery spending is a silver lining on an otherwise “soft”​ Christmas season in the US, the full service sales and marketing agency added. Although a survey from CivicScience​ conducted in mid-December found 12% of people haven't started their holiday shopping yet and 49% still need to wrap up their shopping. In addition, as the shopping season progresses, more people are spending more than anticipated. About 21% of shoppers in the current survey said they will spend more this year than last, compared to only 13% who said they'd spend more during a poll conducted in October.

Acosta's finding that shoppers are willing to spend more on food than in previous years could be a reflection of the emerging sharing economy and consumers’ shifting interest to have more experiences – such as a memorable meal with friends and family – rather than more tangible products.

With that in mind, most consumers will want their meals to go smoothly, which could be why 68% of surveyed shoppers told Acosta that they will plan and shop for the meal or party one or two weeks prior. About one-third will shop closer to the event, Acosta’s study revealed.

Manufacturers of foods and beverages can increase their chance of being part of consumers festivities by helping them plan – either by providing recipes, offering partially or completely prepared components of a holiday meal or working with retailers to better position their products as convenient parts of a meal solution, the findings suggest.

For example, Acosta found 68% of respondents will prepare a new recipe during the holiday and most of these shoppers will be younger or have children.

While about a third of people will get the recipes from friends or family, a significant portion will come from traditional and social media, where manufacturers can have a sizable influence by offering recipes with branded ingredients or by working with bloggers to have their products highlighted in new dishes.

Specifically, Acosta found 44% of shoppers will find new recipes on food websites, 43% in magazines and newspapers and 33% on social media. Another 28% of shoppers said they will try new recipes from the grocery store, which suggests there is potential to influence shoppers at the point of sale, even though most say they plan ahead.

More than three-quarters of shoppers also told Acosta they plan to buy prepared food solutions from the grocery to store to help with their party prep. The most popular prepared foods include store bakery pies and desserts (54%), side dishes (34%) and party trays (29%).

Branded verses private label

The holidays also are a time for splurging and upgrading to “better”​ brands during the holidays, according to the Acosta survey.

It found 25% of shoppers said they would opt for name-brand products in place of private label foods they buy at other times of the year. Another 25% said they would buy “better name-brand”​ items this time of year.

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