Consumers increasingly worried about finances, raising food prices

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Consumers increasingly worried about finances, raising food prices

By Marianne Wilson - 10/26/2020

Concern about their personal finances and the economy in general is on the rise among U.S. consumers.

Forty-nine percent of U.S. consumers reported that their personal finances were poor, up 20% since July, according to dunnhumby’s latest Consumer Pulse Survey, a multi-phased, worldwide study of the impact of COVID-19 on customer attitudes and behavior.  In addition, 68% reported that the economy wasn’t doing well and 91% said they are closely watching store prices. 

The survey found that Walmart dominates customers’ minds when it comes to value. Thirty-four percent of respondents rated Walmart first, with Aldi (12%) and Kroger (9%) coming in at second and third.  

Survey respondents’ concerns with higher food prices align with the latest Consumer Price Index for Food, which reported that August food prices were 4.1% higher than in 2019.    

The “dunnhumby Worry Index,” a measure of how concerned consumers are about COVID-19, is now down to 24% in the U.S., a drop of 5% compared to July. 

“Seven months after shutdowns, we are now seeing a major pivot with consumer focus turning away from the virus itself to now being more concerned with increasing food prices while the economy and their personal finances are deteriorating,” said Jose Gomes, president of North America for dunnhumby. “Retailers need to take note that most shoppers right now are on the hunt for more value by shopping at stores with regularly low prices, while also seeking discounts and promotions.”

Key findings from the new study are below.

• The number of weekly shopping trips is increasing with an average of 5.4 in the recent survey compared to 3.8 in March. 

Fifty percent of respondents continue to shop fewer stores, 25% continue to spend more each trip and 41% are getting carry-out. However, while trips to the store are increasing, consumers still expect retailers to put specific safety precautions, like social distance markers, in place.

• Fifty-percent of consumers believe stores are doing a good job regarding the virus.  

• With online shopping reaching its tipping point during the pandemic, all signs point to U.S. consumers continuing to use this channel for 30% of all their trips now and in the future. 

• Customers are fighting price hikes by shopping at stores where prices are low and searching for deals. As a result of rising prices, 58% of those surveyed are now shopping where regular prices are low, 43% are buying the lowest priced products, 36% are using coupons, 34% are searching online for best sales, and 21% are buying more private brand items.

The dunnhumby Consumer Pulse Survey is a multiphased worldwide study of the impact of COVID-19 on customer attitudes and behavior.  

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