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Grocery Spending Jumps 14% as Americans Decide to Cook More

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Consumers did a fair amount of Netflix bingeing while staying home this past year, and it’s safe to assume there was a healthy dose of snacking involved. More than a year into the pandemic, people are still stockpiling while at the grocery store.

New research from New York-based data and consulting firm NCSolutions has found a 14% increase among households in grocery spending since before the pandemic.

Nearly half of Americans are cooking more

About half (47%) of Americans are cooking more often than before the pandemic, but that number jumps to 88% when you add in those who are cooking as frequently. The same percentage (47%) of people cooking more often are eating healthy.

For the most part, American households seem to be stockpiling on nonperishables and foods that don’t go bad as quickly. And similar to the surge in arts and crafts during the pandemic, there’s been a spike in baking.

Here’s a look at spending in various food and drink categories as compared to pre-pandemic times:

  • Frozen foods: Increased 29%
  • Beans and dry grains: Increased 28%
  • Baking ingredients: Increased 27%
  • Fresh produce: Increased 24%
  • Alcohol: Increased 23%
  • Breakfast foods: Increased 21%
  • Soft drinks: Increased 18%
  • Coffee: Increased 14%
  • Snacks: Increased 13%
  • Sweets: Increased 12%

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Consumers are stocking up on cleaning supplies and pantry items

Many Americans — especially amid the pandemic — have become particular about what they must always be stocked up on. The following sections highlight the percentage of respondents who said these products must always be in their home.

Household items

  • Cleaning supplies: 81%
  • Toilet paper and other paper goods: 80%

Medicine and health care

  • Painkillers, cold and flu medicine, and allergy medications: 63%
  • Vitamins and supplements: 54%

Food

  • Pantry items (i.e., soup, beans and rice): 72%
  • Proteins: 63%
  • Fresh fruits and veggies: 63%
  • Snack foods: 58%
  • Convenience and frozen foods: 57%
  • Baking ingredients: 55%
  • Sweets and confections: 39%

Drinks

  • Soft drinks: 44%
  • Beer and wine: 22%
  • Liquor: 14%
  • Seltzer: 7%

A renewed focus on health and wellness

According to NCSolutions’ data on consumer purchases, 21% of Americans are buying more vitamins and supplements than the year prior. Beyond their grocery cart, there are the other ways people are boosting their self-care:

  • Eating healthy foods: 47%
  • Enjoying more meals at home: 42%
  • Exercising regularly: 38%
  • Taking up new hobbies: 28%
  • Indulging in a special treat: 22%

In a way, Americans also go to the grocery store as a form of self-care: 42% of respondents said they visited the grocery store to leave the house and establish a sense of normalcy. However, at least 25% feel that in-person grocery shopping can be a stressful experience.

Interestingly, while there’s a surge in the purchase of home fitness equipment and Americans are exercising more — from 3.75 days a week to more than 4.25 days — it turns out they’re exercising less intensely.

Methodology: NCSolutions conducted an online survey from Feb. 26 to March 2, 2021, of 2,017 U.S. respondents ages 18 and above.