Inflation Fears Alter Consumer Shopping Behavior

Ninety percent of shoppers say they intend to cut back on purchases as prices rise.

July 26, 2021

$5 Bills Wrapped Up

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—More than 90% of consumers surveyed said they plan to change shopping behaviors as prices rise, while 55% said they’d already adjusted their purchasing habits because of recent price increases, according to a new study by Chicago-based data firm Numerator.

Researchers polled shoppers during June and July and found that four in five consumers had noticed that prices had risen on frequently purchased groceries and household essentials. Two-thirds said they expect prices to increase even more during the next six months.

More than half (54%) of consumers surveyed said they are moderately or significantly concerned about future price increases, with low purchasing power consumers 1.7 times as likely to say they were extremely concerned than consumers with high purchasing power (39% vs. 23%).

Consumers identified their the top three strategies for managing an inflationary environment:

  • Switching to lower priced brands
  • Pursuing promotions and discounts
  • Cutting back on discretionary spend

Nearly half of consumers plan to switch to lower priced brands with slight inflation, and 60% plan to switch with significant inflation. Among respondents surveyed, 45% said they will look for additional discounts and promotions with slight inflation, and 50% will seek out deals with significant inflation.

Bars and restaurants are the most popular choice for discretionary spending cuts, regardless of consumer purchasing power. Nearly three-quarters of consumers plan reductions in bar and restaurant spend with further inflation.

Numerator isn’t the only research facility to confirm that consumers’ are worried about inflation. The University of Michigan released a preliminary sentiment index, which showed a dip of 80.8% in July from 85.5% in June, a change researchers attribute to apprehension over rising prices.

To learn more about how to market to hesitant consumers, read “Marketing in an Era of Meaningful Media” and also read “Stop the Leakage” to learn how to drive traffic to your store, both featured in NACS Magazine.