Inflation and its Impact on Consumer Spending in 2023

Each year it has become increasingly harder to predict consumer spending behaviors as variables have been unprecedented and fleeting. Year-to-year benchmarks are less reliable as societal shifts in trends and behaviors impact consumers’ day-to-day habits.

With the increase in content creation and the deterioration of attention spans, trends come along faster and more frequently and are replaced by the next just as fast. Inflation, although predictable, also came with speed as high gas prices were quickly replaced by increased food costs as the pocket punching pain-point in households across the U.S.

USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) states that “food prices are expected to grow more slowly in 2023 than in 2022, but still at above historical average rates.”

Food brands, and especially perishable and fresh produce items, are growing increasingly expensive and further out of shoppers’ household budgets at the same time that food companies are working to increase consumption through nutrition education, grabbing onto the coattails of immunity trends and the promise of delivering on consumers’ new years’ resolutions. According to PR news wire in 2021, losing weight was the most common New Year’s resolution (23%) but also the most frequently broken (33%).

Fast forward to 2023, and the weight loss resolution is even less attainable due to inflation and increased food costs.

Related Article: Consumers Cut Back on Online Grocery Shopping

USDA ERS further stated that this year, all food prices are predicted to increase between 3.0 and 4.0 percent, food-at-home prices are expected to increase between 2.5 and 3.5 percent, and food-away-from-home prices are predicted to increase between 4.0 and 5.0 percent.

These increases in food costs, blamed mainly on inflation, undeniably result in consumers’ conservative food spending. How can we rectify this spending behavior when in mid-December, the National Retail Federation (NRF) forecasted growth of 6% to 8% in U.S. holiday sales for 2022 to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion.

In 2021, holiday sales grew 13.5% (a banner year) and totaled $889.3 billion, says NRF. There’s a discrepancy in how consumers shop for holiday goods compared to how they shop for sustenance and food staples.

The solution? It’s not that easy, but there are factors to consider as we merchandise food items in 2023.

“This year’s post-pandemic consumer holiday shopping trend, officially confirmed in Etsy’s 2022 holiday trends guide, is known as “dopamine gifting,” a way to spark joy through bright colors and shiny adornments. This playful, mood-boosting aesthetic represents a fresh start, and the timing could not be better paired with the resolutions and new beginnings of the calendar’s turn.

Fresh produce is positioned to add to the immunity-boosting merchandising and sales messaging in 2023 with dopamine-boosting joyful colors, flavors, and occasions.

If we are to encourage consumers to bridge their spending behavior gap between holiday shopping and grocery shopping, we must yield to the trends that bring them joy in spending.

It’s time to turn on the spotlight and draw even more attention to mood-enhancing fruits and vegetables. It’s one more opportunity for the consumer to learn about their benefits, increase consumption, and boost fresh produce sales.