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In the sixth and final installment of FMI’s US Grocery Shopping Trends 2022 research series published Oct. 20, the trade association in partnership with the Hartman Group found consumer concerns about inflation are “exacerbating typical holiday stress​” and spurring some adjustments to both everyday and holiday meal shopping.

More than two-thirds (70%) of the 1,718 US adults surveyed from Oct. 1 to Oct. 6 reported being very or extremely concerned about rising food prices, which continue to hover at 40-year highs even as inflation in other categories eases.

“As inflationary pressures have evolved, a greater number of shoppers ​[65% versus 60% in August] are reporting that they are spending more on groceries because prices have gone up on all items,”​ but most noticeably within fresh meat and seafood (as cited by 56% of respondents), fresh produce (53%), refrigerated dairy foods (51%) and non-dairy milk (50%), according to FMI.

To maintain their level of food purchases despite rising prices, FMI found 57% of respondents are eating out less, 55% are buying new clothes less often, 47% are cutting back on gifts for family, 45% are driving less and 45% are pulling back on holiday celebrations. 

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Subtle shifts in grocery purchases to keep costs down

Shoppers are also adjusting what goes into their grocery carts with 41% buying fewer items, up 4 percentage points from August – an increase that could portend additional pullback in the coming months as consumers make space in their budget for seasonal spending and traveling.

In addition, more consumers are opting for frozen meat and seafood (a 3 percentage point increase from August to 14%), more store brands (a 3 percentage point increase from August to 44%) or generally switching brands they buy (up 5 percentage points from August to 30% of respondents), according to FMI.