How is the cost of living shaping consumer behaviour?

10 May 2022

Farm business Food supply chain
A picture of a lady looking at the label on a pot of dairy produce in the supermarket

With inflation on the rise there is no doubt consumers will adapt their purchasing habits to counteract the rising cost of living. We take a look at the latest data from Kantar and trends in consumer – and retailer – behaviour. 

Data from Kantar – the leading data, insights and consulting company – shows like-for-like grocery price inflation was at 5.9% during April 2022, its highest level since December 2011.

Latest consumer trends

As concerns over the cost of living increase, we are starting to see shoppers looking to make savings through their grocery shop.

Supermarket sales fell by 5.9% over the 12 weeks to 17 April 2022. The average basket size has dropped by 4.5%.

Shoppers have been turning to discount retailers Aldi and Lidl as inflationary pressures on budgets grows. Over one million extra shoppers visited the discounters in the past 12 weeks compared with the same period last year.

Adapting purchasing habits

In order to counteract the periods of high inflation, consumers are adapting their purchasing by trading down, purchasing frozen items or eating out less.

During recent conversations, retailers have reported early signs of shoppers prioritising price. Some have seen an increase in customers trading down or buying own brand value ranges.

Retailer pricing strategies

In recent weeks we have seen retailers adapt their pricing strategy in response to consumers concerns over inflation:

  • Asda launched its Just Essentials line
  • Morrisons announced that it is cutting the price of many everyday goods
  • Tesco is locking in savings through its Clubcard strategy

Round prices

One trend Kantar has identified is the move away from selling products at “round prices”, e.g. £5 as opposed to £4.99. The percentage of packs sold at “round prices” has dropped by 2.3% compared to March 2021.

What is the NFU doing?

All of these trends indirectly impact on farmers and the wider supply chain. We're monitoring the situation and communicating with the supply chain to understand changing patterns in consumer behaviour and the implications this might have on suppliers.

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