It’ll be a very value-focused holiday shopping season

Aisle 1: Grocery shoppers want Santa to bring them deals this year, and retailers including Walmart, Aldi, Dollar General and others appear happy to oblige.
Dollar General holiday
Dollar General is one of many food retailers doubling down on deals this holiday season. / Photo courtesy: Dollar General
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After years of pandemic-related challenges and soaring inflation, bargains appear to be at the top of grocery shoppers’ holiday wish lists this year. And retailers seem happy to oblige.

Even though Halloween candy hasn’t yet been handed out, food retailers are engaged in a battle of “How low will you go?” to entice Thanksgiving and Christmas meal planners.

Dollar General on Thursday said it would offer deep discounts on recipe-focused food deals, while Walmart and Aldi have previously unveiled Thanksgiving price cuts. Aldi also announced more than 70 new seasonal items, most priced under $10, including specialty cheeses, charcuterie board ingredients, wines and snacks.

And there are likely more food-focused deals in the days and weeks to come.

It’s easy to see why grocers are playing up deals this holiday season: Sixty percent of consumers expressed a high level of concern about the economy in October, up slightly from September, according to data firm Numerator. Three-quarters of those shoppers said higher prices on essential goods and services (like food) is their main financial worry.

“The holidays should be spent with friends and family, not scouring grocery shelves for better prices,” Aldi’s VP of National Buying Joan Kavanaugh said in a statement on Thursday.

Noting that it is “not a grocer,” Dollar General said it would promote three-day weekend deals days in November and December on products including its private-label Clover Valley brand and its expanded fresh produce selection. Markdowns will center on recipe bundles, such as ingredients for green bean casserole or pumpkin pie. Additional discounts, the retailer said, will include buy one, get one 50% off on holiday foods.

Walmart, the country’s largest food retailer, benefits from the luxury of its massive size in holding the line on prices. Earlier this month, the company said it would sell a Thanksgiving meal for up to 10 people for just over $70, about $2 less than last year. Last year, despite double-digit inflation, Walmart marketed Thanksgiving foods at 2021 prices.

“Finally, we’re able to have a Thanksgiving basket that the prices are coming down versus a year ago, and Americans need that right now,” Walmart U.S. President and CEO John Furner declared on a morning news show.

But while it may ease the anxieties of holiday shoppers, investing in price is not without risks for both mass-market retailers and smaller grocers.

And whether consumers will decide to spend their savings on discretionary purchases or pocket the bonus bucks remains to be seen.

Numerator this month found that 72% of shoppers are uncomfortable spending on splurges and 75% expect inflation to increase in the coming months.



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