Industry Partners

Which Grocery Players Benefit Most From Stimulus Plan?

IRI’s new consumer shopper survey reveals winners and losers
Photograph: Shutterstock

While a second stimulus check designed to spur economic recovery during COVID-19 has bipartisan support, negotiations are currently at a stalemate. In the meantime, a new study from IRI reveals who in grocery benefited most from the first round of stimulus checks and who will likely have the most to gain from a second round.

IRI’s recently released COVID-19 Consumer Stimulus, Unemployment Benefit Spending and Shopper Behavior report shows that nearly 9 in 10 households received the first stimulus payment, and 1 in 4, or 27%, spent it on groceries and household essentials.

A leading provider of big data, predictive analytics and forward-looking insights, the Chicago-based IRI collected its consumer survey of primary shoppers July 31 through Aug. 2. Only additional savings (35%) and rent/mortgage/utilities (41%) topped grocery spending in terms of allocation of the first stimulus check funds. If and when a second stimulus check is received, 27% of consumers said they would again spend it on groceries and household essentials.  

Categories most likely to benefit from stimulus dollars include meat and produce, says IRI. Among the 85% who received prior stimulus money, 16% used it to buy more meat (chicken, turkey, beef, pork, etc.), and 21% anticipate using it for more meat if a second stimulus check is received. Additionally, 15% of consumers surveyed bought more fresh fruits and vegetables with the first check, and 20% said they would apply a second payment to more fresh produce.

In terms of channels shopped, IRI finds that mass, grocery, club and e-commerce will benefit most from additional stimulus dollars. “If you received another similar amount of money from the government in the next two months, how would it impact where you shop for groceries, healthcare and other household essentials?” IRI asked shoppers. Fifteen percent said they would spend more at mass merchants, 14% said grocery and 14% said online-only retailers.

According to IRI, among the 9% of American households currently receiving unemployment, 88% lost their jobs due to COVID-19. Respondents to IRI’s survey said that if their unemployment benefits were reduced (which they have been since the study), they anticipated making fewer purchases of meat, fresh foods and snacks. Additionally, they anticipated spending less at all channels, with the exception of dollar stores.

Without additional unemployment benefits, IRI found that fresh foods and snacks would be most impacted. Shoppers also said they anticipated purchasing fewer pre-packaged and convenient meals, while relying more on pantry staples and store brands.

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