Grocery Shoppers Buy Fewer Items but Maintain Quality Amid Inflation

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Price-sensitive grocery shoppers are likelier to reduce the number of items purchased than sacrifice quality.

The Data in Action

United Kingdom online grocer Ocado Retail, a joint venture between grocery technology company Ocado Group and British retailer Marks & Spencer, noted record high sales over this past holiday season. Yet, despite this bump, average basket value was down 1.3% year over year, with the number of items per basket declining.

“The first half of 2023 will see basket sizes considerably lower than those of the first half of 22. [The] second half of 2023 will see basket sizes compare against a more normal second half in ‘22 in terms of number items per basket,” Ocado Retail CEO Hannah Gibson stated in the company’s Q4 2022 update on Tuesday (Jan. 17).

Yet, while many consumers are reducing the number of items they are purchasing, fewer are scrimping on quality. On its most recent earnings call in November, snack and candy giant Mondelēz International noted that it expects consumers will hang on to simple, affordable luxuries while they belt-tighten elsewhere.

“We see consumers saying that chocolate is really something they cannot live without,” CEO Dirk Van de Put told analysts while discussing the company’s third quarter results. “We believe that the spending decrease that we will see from consumers eventually, as inflation keeps hitting them, is going to probably be more in the big-ticket items,” he added, noting that grocery items seemed to be doing pretty well overall.

By the Numbers

Research from the latest edition of PYMNTS’ Consumer Inflation Sentiment study “Consumer Inflation Sentiment: Perception Is Reality,” for which PYMNTS surveyed more than 2,100 consumers in December, reveals that 69% of consumers have made changes to their grocery shopping lists in the last year in response to rising prices. Fifty-nine percent have reduced the quantities of items they are purchasing, but only 35% have reduced the quality.

consumers trade down in grocery