In the latest installment of the trade group’s ongoing 2023 US Grocery Shopping Trends 2023 series focused on “Back to School,” FMI found more parents plan to eat at home and prepare their own meals “more and more” this fall and that a they are more likely than the general population to be “more and more” concerned about having enough to eat.
Thirty-nine percent of parents surveyed by FMI said they plan to eat at home more this fall and 35% plan to cook or prepare their own meals more. While this is notably lower than the general population (51% of which said they plan to eat at home more this fall and 44% of which said they plan to cook their own meals “more and more,”) the difference could reflect constraints on parents’ time and energy for cooking once the academic year – and all of its obligations – begin.
To save time and energy, parents are more likely to shop online for groceries than the general population with almost a quarter of caregivers reporting they buy groceries online “almost every time,” and 89% reporting they do so “at least occasionally,” according to the report. This is dramatically higher than the 12% of all shoppers who said in July they shop online almost every time and the 65% who said they do so at least occasionally.
“This trend isn’t likely to subside with 42% of parents reporting a year-over-year increase in frequency for grocery shopping online,” Kelli Windsor, senior director of digital communications at FMI, noted in a recent blog post.
She writes that retailers that are “still tinkering with their online grocery shopping options” keep parents in mind and look for ways to make online shopping “a joy by providing convenience, quality, experience and relevance,” which she says are “all part of today’s grocery shoppers’ value matrix.”
Most parents worry about rising grocery prices
This back-to-school season, parents are also more likely than other shoppers to worry about the rising prices and being able to afford food but they are also less likely to seek deals, use coupons and adopt other tactics to manage spending, according to FMI.
Anxiety about rising grocery prices due to inflation appears to be stabilizing since June, but remains high with 70% of shoppers noting they are extremely or very concerned about it in August – the same as in June and down from 75% in February, according to FMI. But it also found this concern was more prevalent among parents with 76% reporting they were very or extremely concerned about it in August – up slightly from 75% in June and February.
Notably, parents report feeling less concerned about rising prices for school supplies this year than last – dropping 5 percentage points to 60% who said they were very or extremely concerned about this, FMI found.
Their concern about grocery prices also exceeds that of rent or housing, which came in at 70%, and clothing, about which 61% said they were very or extremely concerned, according to FMI.
Parents are more likely to buy in bulk, online to save than to seek deals, sales
Despite having higher concerns about rising food prices, parents “in some cases are less likely to adapt deal-seeking behaviors,” according to FMI. It found parents are 12 percentage points less likely than all shoppers to look for deals, 5 percentage points less likely to buy only when on sale and 8 percentage points less likely to buy fewer items, the survey revealed.
However, to address rising prices FMI also found parents are 5 percentage points more likely than all shoppers to buy frozen meat and seafood, 2 percentage points more likely to buy in bulk and 9 percentage points to buy online.
“This suggests parents have more constraints on their shopping behavior; with less capacity to adjust, they have more reason to worry,” the report notes.