- 80% of respondents say rising inflation has made it more costly for them to buy groceries.
- Of those who say inflation has made it more costly to buy groceries, almost 30% are no longer able to afford groceries for themselves or their family.
- 38% of respondents say the rising cost of groceries has led them to overspend when shopping for groceries.
U.S. inflation has reached a near 40-year high, significantly driving up prices for American households, including everything from cars and gas prices to household staples like eggs, produce and meat. Driven largely by sustained consumer demand throughout the pandemic and supply chain shortages caused by COVID, many Americans are now being priced out of basic necessities – namely groceries.
According to a recent study conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Credit Karma, 80% of grocery shoppers say rising inflation has made it more costly for them to buy groceries. This was especially true for Boomers and older generations, 88% of which said rising prices have made it more costly for them to buy groceries. This is having a tangible impact on consumers’ purchasing power. According to the study, nearly 30% of these respondents who are feeling the impact of rising inflation at the supermarket say they’re no longer able to afford groceries for themselves or their families.
Lower income households and those with kids are being pinched the most
One-third of respondents with household incomes below $50,000, who reported rising inflation made it more costly for them to shop for groceries, say they are no longer able to afford groceries. Similarly, 38% of respondents who reported having one or more kids under the age of 18, say they can no longer afford groceries for themselves and their families.
To understand why some are struggling to afford such necessities, it’s important to consider the financial stability of Americans more broadly. According to the study, 32% of respondents do not feel financially stable right now. Of those nearly 40% say they’re unable to afford groceries.
Here’s a breakdown of financial stability for those who see inflation as a barrier to putting food on the table.
Due to rising inflation, I’m no longer able to afford groceries for me or my family.
|Financially unstable||Financially stable|
|Neither agree nor disagree||22%||8%|
So, just how much are people spending?
Nearly half of grocery shoppers typically spend $101 or more on groceries each week with 34% of those spending somewhere between $101 and $200. The typical amount spent on groceries creeps up when you look at households with one or more kids under the age of 18. Nearly three-quarters of households with one or more kids under the age of 18 typically spend $101 or more on groceries each week, 67% of which spend somewhere between $101 and $350 each week.
These numbers shift again when you compare grocery spend by annual household income. For example, nearly a quarter of grocery shoppers who earn less than $50,000 annually typically spend less than $50 per week on groceries, compared to 5% of households who make between $50,000 and $99,000 and just 1% of households who make more than $100,000 each year.
Here’s a breakdown of typical grocery spend per week by household income.
|HHI less than $50k||HHI $50k-$99k||HHI more than $100k|
|Less than $50||22%||5%||1%|
|$101 – $200||6%||43%||48%|
|$201 – $350||6%||11%||22%|
|$351 – $500||0%||2%||6%|
|More than $500||0%||0%||3%|
Pandemic drove changes in consumers’ grocery shopping behaviors
More than half of respondents who shop for groceries say their grocery shopping habits have changed since the start of the pandemic, with 61% of those saying they spend more now than they did prior to the pandemic. The rising cost of groceries and more frequent meals at home may be large drivers of this trend.
According to the study, 38% of grocery shoppers say the rising cost of groceries is the most likely reason behind their likelihood to overspend when grocery shopping. This is a problem when you consider 51% of those who report they’re spending more now say they cook more at home now than they did prior to the pandemic and another 47% said they’re most likely to overspend on groceries because they’re stocking up on food for potential emergencies. Time to hide the toilet paper.
Other factors that can lead to overspending include shopping while hungry – 66% of shoppers admit they tend to overspend when they shop hungry – or stocking up on snacks and treats (30%) and/or venturing off a grocery list to buy unnecessary items (30%).
Waste not, want not. Our eyes may be bigger than our budgets.
More than one-in-five grocery shoppers estimate they spend more than $51 on groceries that they don’t end up using. That number jumps when you look at households with one or more kinds under the age of 18. Nearly a quarter of those households estimate they spend more than $100 on groceries that don’t end up being used, compared to just 5% of households without kids.
“Food insecurity is a major issue in America and yet it’s not something that’s often talked about in our society,” said Colleen McCreary, consumer financial advocate at Credit Karma. “Many people were already struggling to put food on the table prior to the pandemic. Now, with a still mutating virus, a labor crisis and the highest levels of inflation in nearly 40 years, even more people are struggling to provide for their families. If our data is any indication, larger families and low-earning households are suffering the most. In my many years of experience volunteering at food banks, I can tell you, donations go a long way in keeping our communities fed.”
On behalf of Credit Karma, Qualtrics conducted a nationally representative online survey in November 2021 of 1,050 Americans, aged 18 and above, to understand how rising inflation impacts consumers’ ability to afford necessities, specifically groceries.