Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Frugal is the fashion in food shopping

August 21, 2008

grocery2.JPGIn a  bid to stretch shrinking grocery dollars, U.S. consumers are shunning restaurants for home-cooked meals, clipping coupons, scouring grocery store flyers for deals and consolidating trips to save gas.The U.S. Agriculture Department has warned that 2008 could bring the biggest increase in food prices in nearly 20 years. If shoppers’ words match their actions, it seems that frugal will become the new fashion.

Roughly 80 percent of respondents to a recent survey said they planned to continue those penny-pinching ways even after the economy turns up and they have more coins jingling in their pockets, according to retail consulting firm Precima, which commissioned the online survey that polled more than 2,000 U.S. consumers.

Half of the consumers said they cut back on frozen dinners, while more than 40 percent said they nixed chips, cookies and dessert items like ice cream and cake when money was tight.

Beer, wine and spirits fared only slightly better — 40 percent of respondents said they stopped buying booze to save cash.

Still fewer people — nearly one-third of respondents — said they were already trading down from national brands to lower-priced store brands.

“Despite the challenging economy, consumers are very reluctant to switch brands to save money,” said Brian Moss, Precima’s general manager.

No wonder big packaged food companies like Kraft and Kellogg can raise prices.

(Photo: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni)


That’s not frugal. That’s called healthy i.e. not living by fat American standards.

Posted by Maya | Report as abusive

I really think people would be surprised to taste test store brands against brand names. I started switching to save money in college and now I buy the store brand for most of my food! Especially now with online coupons, I usually shop at food lion and with their shoppers companion email I know when to go shopping. Many of my friends are doing the same thing…I don’t know many 25 year olds who still clip the weekly coupons. This is way easier!


Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see