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Shoppers Grow Cautious and Creative as Food Prices Climb

Shoppers Grow Cautious and Creative as Food Prices Climb

How far will $100 go at the supermarket? Not as far as in 2019.

While food inflation has slowed in recent months, costs continue to climb at the grocery store, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Thursday (April 4). It analyzed NielsenIQ data on various commonly purchased goods that were valued at a total of $100 five years ago. That same grocery list costs nearly $37 more today, with the price of some items, including eggs and sports drinks, jumping more than 40%.

Food company executives have said they needed to raise prices to offset their own costs for things like ingredients, transportation and labor, according to the report. Meanwhile, politicians have criticized food makers over “shrinkflation,” a term for when companies reduce the size or amount of their products while keeping prices the same.

“Some companies are trying to pull a fast one by shrinking the products little by little and hoping you won’t notice,” President Joe Biden said in a video message ahead of this year’s Super Bowl. “Give me a break. The American public is tired of being played for suckers. I’m calling on companies to put a stop to this. Let’s make sure businesses do the right thing now.”

The president’s comments follow a 2023 report on shrinkflation from Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania which noted that the cost of snacks like Doritos had gone up by 26.4% since January 2019, with shrinking portions accounting for 9.8% of the increase.

Food inflation has led some shoppers to become creative, per the WSJ report. For example, one shopper interviewed in the report said she tries to think of trips to the supermarket like raids “depicted in apocalyptic novels,” where the object is to restock her kitchen while spending as little as possible.

Meanwhile, PYMNTS Intelligence found that consumers are more cautious in their spending habits. More than 60% said price is a factor in deciding what to buy, while 29% said it is the most important factor.

“Similarly, when deciding where to shop, more than 48% say price shapes their decision, with 25% saying it is the most significant consideration,” PYMNTS wrote this month.

In addition, nearly 43% of consumers said sales, promotions and discounts help them decide what to buy, while 42% said this is a factor in determining where they shop.

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