Good News for Grocers: Consumers Plan to Shop Early for Holiday Season

Despite concerns surrounding the availability and cost of favorite holiday foods due to lingering post-pandemic supply chain and inflation issues, most shoppers plan to celebrate the holidays much the same as they did before the pandemic. A new survey from FMI-The Food Industry Association revealed details about grocery shopper behavior during the holiday season. 

The report found that this holiday season, consumers will be shopping early and observing relaxed but persistent social distancing measures when gathering with friends and family.

FMI—The Food Industry Association released its U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends Tracker: Holidays, a comprehensive report on the impact of COVID-19 on U.S. grocery shopper perceptions and behaviors heading into the busy holiday season.

“Consumers remain aware of pandemic impacts on the supply chain, but most are confident that with some planning, they will find their favorite foods at reasonable prices and share a traditional menu with loved ones this holiday season,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of FMI. “Both grocers and consumers have demonstrated tremendous resilience over the last year, and shoppers are excited about a cautious return to normalcy for their holiday gatherings this year.”

The report reveals that while 58% of shoppers expressed some concern about being able to purchase groceries they need for their meals during the holiday season, that sentiment hasn’t changed since the summer, suggesting that consumers aren’t overly concerned with reports of product shortages this winter.

Related Article: Consumers Change Their Shopping Behavior in the Face of Inflation

To mitigate potential supply chain issues, 18% of shoppers indicate they will plan further in advance when shopping for their Thanksgiving meals this year than they usually would.

Despite concerns about inflation, average household grocery spending has held steady at about $144 per week, down from the $161 per week witnessed at the height of the pandemic last year.

While most shoppers said they expect to celebrate the holidays the same as before the pandemic, roughly half of shoppers say that COVID-19 will have an impact on how they celebrate upcoming holidays, with some noting they plan to hold smaller gatherings, watch events like sports and parades from home, and enforce social distancing rules.

The report also finds that 76% of shoppers were satisfied with their primary grocery store’s response to the pandemic, with over half of shoppers trusting their primary food store for helping them stay healthy.