By Steve Markenson, Director, Research & Insights, FMI
The weather here in the nation’s capital has finally turned cooler and our thoughts are now focused on the coming holidays. The food industry has been dealing with more than its share of issues over the past few months – supply chain, workforce shortages, inflation, vaccine/mask mandates and, of course, the ongoing pandemic. All these issues will impact the food industry during this special, celebratory time of year.
But as the industry navigates these myriad issues, what are shoppers thinking? FMI’s latest U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends Tracker : Holiday comes out today to help us understand what is on the mind of the shopper, with a close look at the coming holidays. Simply put, there is a lot on shoppers’ minds in general and with respect to the holidays.
Let’s start with the general mindset:
Concerns about COVID-19 and its variants have not waned since the summer months, The level of concern is down, but not down that much from this time last year (62% to 52%).
Despite the inflation data, concerns about the rising prices of food have not changed in recent months. While just over half of Americans (53%) have concerns about food inflation, this was a concern for some last year at this same time (40%).
With all the coverage of ships lined up at ports and their experiences over the past 20 months, one might think shoppers are concerned about out-of-stocks. But less than half of shoppers (43%) are concerned, this is similar to this time last year (39%).
Even with the plethora of job openings, a significant number of Americans (28%) continue to be concerned about having enough money to pay for the food they need. This number is actually up from this time last year (21%).
Shoppers continue to give their stores high marks for their response to pandemic. In fact, the ratings in this month’s Tracker were among the highest we have seen over the past 20 months.
Now let’s look at the coming holidays:
The vast majority of Americans are planning to celebrate as usual or even more than usual (85% to 88%), with only about one in seven saying they will celebrate less than usual (12% to 15%). However, fully half say that their celebrations will be impacted by COVID-19 in some ways (48% to 55%).
This year, while gatherings may be smaller for some, fewer shoppers plan to reduce their celebration size. Between 25% to 40% (depending on the holiday) planned to reduce the number of people with whom they celebrate in 2020, but this year only 16% to 24% plan to reduce the number of people with whom they celebrate.
The focus this year is on planning ahead and shopping early. Some (26%) worry that retailers could run out of favorite holiday foods, this number jumps to 45% among households with kids.
There is a lot more to learn about what shoppers told us in general and about their holiday plans in the latest U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends Tracker: Holiday. You can download it now.