Consumers are feeling pretty positive heading into the holidays, eager to celebrate favorite traditions and confident that with some advance planning and early buying, they'll be able to check off their shopping lists successfully, FMI – The Food Industry Association said Wednesday.
A new FMI survey of grocery shoppers finds that while around half say that the COVID-19 pandemic will have some impact on their holiday celebrations—in the form of smaller gatherings, for example—most are looking forward to celebrating overall in the same ways they did before the pandemic. "Shoppers are excited about a cautious return to normalcy for their holiday gatherings this year," FMI President and CEO Leslie Sarasin said in a statement.
Some 58% of shoppers said they're at least somewhat concerned about being able to get the holiday groceries they need—but according to FMI, concern about grocery availability hasn't budged since summer, "suggesting that consumers aren’t overly concerned with reports of product shortages this winter," the organization stated. A slightly smaller share, 53%, said they're concerned about rising prices for their holiday groceries. Not quite one in five (18%) said they plan to get an earlier start on their Thanksgiving shopping this year than they have in the past.
"Consumers remain aware of pandemic impacts on the supply chain, but most are confident that with some planning they will find their favorite foods at reasonable prices and share [a] traditional menu with loved ones this holiday season," Sarasin said.
What are their backup plans? A plurality, 47%, would opt to serve a different item. Around one in three (32%) said they'd look for a new recipe—one with ingredients they can get their hands on—and 22% said they'd look to purchase from a store's fresh-prepared department.
Last month, polling from Kroger-owned data and media company 84.51° found 85% of respondents saying they're planning to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal and only 12% expecting to cut back on their holiday spending this year, even in the face of rising inflation.
Meanwhile, recent data from market research firm IRI suggests consumers could indeed find it worthwhile to seek out Thanksgiving grocery staples early: Frozen pie shells, gravy and whipped toppings all had elevated and worsening out-of-stock rates as of late October, IRI found.
FMI's survey findings are included in its latest U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends Tracker report. The report notes that while household grocery spending is down from an average of $161 per week at the height of the pandemic, it has held steady in recent months at about $144 per week.