Half of U.S. tempers food spending: Harris

July 25, 2014

Consumers continue to “shop to save” on food in both stores and restaurants.

Consumers’ shaky financial status continues to stall supermarket and restaurant sales growth, one brown bag at a time.

Although a Harris Poll conducted in mid-June shows numbers are improving, the facts are: 

  • Most U.S. adults (56%) say they are likely to “decrease spending on eating out at restaurants” within the next six months.  This is down from 62% a year ago.
  • A majority of U.S. adults (56%) has “purchased more generic brands, or considered doing so, over the past six months, in order to save money.”  This too is down from 62% in 2013.
  • Nearly four out of 10 U.S. adults (39%) have “brown-bagged lunch instead of purchasing it, or considered doing so, over the past six months, in order to save money.”  This is also down from 44% a year ago.

This study depicts roughly half the nation still taking bites out of the retail food and restaurant industries by shopping to save.

There’s a touch of irony ahead too.  While Millennials are likelier to expect to have more money to spend the way they want in the next six months, they are also “more likely to anticipate cutting back on restaurants” – possibly because they’ll need the dough to buy housing.

Food retailers projecting sales should also keep in mind several trends that tend to temper spending, says The Lempert Report.  These include: SNAP program cutbacks; Boomers and Seniors dipping into retirement funds to pay current expenses; the forced retirement of many older workers, the typically lower wages of today’s replacement jobs for the ones lost during and post-recession; the widening wealth gap between the 1% and the 99% nationwide; and the rise to 57 million U.S. adults living in multi-generational households.