When COVID-19 lockdowns began in March of this year, many Americans understandably stocked up on groceries as uncertainty grew. Yet, with current crisis now in its sixth month, it seems that many shoppers are still spending more at the supermarket. According to a survey by LendingTree, adults are seeing their grocery budgets grow despite making fewer trips to the store on the whole.
In recent months, consumers’ average weekly grocery spending has increased 17%, climbing from $163 to $190 during the pandemic. At the same time, many people are making fewer trips to the store, with 40% of survey respondents saying as much. Interestingly, however, men were more likely to be making frequent visits to the grocery store while women tended to be limiting their trips.
As for what types of items shoppers are buying more of, paper products were the most popular. In fact, 43% of those surveyed reported purchasing more of these items. This was followed closely by fresh produce, which 40% of respondents say they’ve increased their spending on in recent months. Other items seeing increases include frozen food (38%) and canned goods (37%).
While a lot of the increased spending goes toward essentials, that’s not always the case. Instead, 31% of respondents admit that they “almost always” overspend when visiting the grocery store. Once again, there was also a gender divide, with men proving twice as likely to exceed their grocery budget.
For those who do want to save at the grocery store, LendingTree also offers a few tips. One unexpected suggestion is to try online shopping. While delivery can get expensive, many stores are offering free curbside pickup options. In addition to convenience, this option may help you avoid impulse buys that are common when strolling through store aisles. As LendingTree chief industry analyst Matt Schulz explains, “The stores are designed to tempt you to buy at every turn. You don’t have to give in, though.” Turning to more traditional tips, opting for generic and private label items over name brands can help save you money — as can planning out your shopping list ahead of time.
With no clear end in sight for the pandemic, the grocery shopping habits that Americans have adopted are unlikely to change too much any time soon. While that might mean increased spending for some, the good news is that this may be an opportunity to try some money-saving strategies. What’s more, continuing these habits may allow you to save an even greater amount of money once things return to normal. It’s just another potential silver lining to what’s been a challenging time for all of us.