Instead of stockpiling toilet paper, these new grocery habits may actually save you money

Summary:

  • New shopping habits may help you save money on groceries.
  • The majority of shoppers altered their shopping habits and locations.
  • If you use a credit card to pay for groceries, make sure you use the one that offers the most cash back on groceries.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, why did toilet paper vanish so quickly from store shelves and online?

According to a Business Insider article and video, when the pandemic hit, toilet paper sales increased by 845%, amounting to $1.45 billion in a single month. Priya Raghubir, an NYU Professor and marketing and consumer behavior expert, told Business Insider that “toilet paper allows them [consumers] to exert some kind of control over a universe that is completely out of control.”

What does the pandemic say about how our grocery shopping habits have changed now that the toilet paper supply has been replenished?

Can new habits help you save money?

Overall, the coronavirus has affected where consumers shop, how they shop, and who shops for groceries. Some of these new shopping habits may also help you save money.

According to the Food Industry Association’s annual U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends study, which was released last month, “the amount of grocery dollars going to online transactions likely doubled in April compared to what it would have been.”

Here are some interesting findings from the study:

  • Shopping Online: In May, nearly half of respondents (49%) shopped online, with 21% doing so for the first time.
  • Shopping Faster: 89% changed their shopping habits, with 32% shopping faster.
  • Shopping at Fewer Stores: 78% of people changed their shopping habits, with 40% shopping at fewer stores.
  • Shopping Alone: More than one-third (36%) said they changed who does the shopping, whether it’s one person in the household (24%) or a relative or friend (11%).

So, how can the aforementioned changes in shopping habits potentially help you save money? When you shop online, you can easily and quickly compare prices and find coupons and other promotions.

A good rule of thumb when grocery shopping is to make a list and, of course, stick to it. We’ve all strayed from our shopping lists at times, but spending less time in stores and visiting fewer stores should help you stick to your list and budget.

When one person in your household shops instead of two, the chances of overlapping purchases or getting items that aren’t on the list are reduced. If you have a friend or relative shop for you, he or she will most likely stick to your list.

What other ways can you save money with rising grocery prices?

Whether you shop in person or online, you’ve probably noticed an increase, or at least a fluctuation, in prices at your local supermarket, from meats, poultry, fish, and eggs to fruits, vegetables, and dairy products.

According to the USDA’s Food Price Index, food prices increased by 4% in May 2020 compared to May 2019.

“Prices will continue to rise for a while,” said industry analyst Phil Lempert in an interview with CNBC. They will most likely be reduced in two to three years once we have a more efficient supply chain.”

The previously mentioned change in shopping habits has the potential to save money.

In addition to the suggestions above, here are a few other things you can do to save money on groceries:

  • Select store brand items: Generic or store brand items are frequently less expensive than name brand items.
    If you don’t think you and your family will eat all of the chicken breasts in a family-size package, you can freeze what you won’t eat or buy a smaller amount.
  • Look for discounts: You don’t have to go crazy with couponing to save money. Even a few dollars saved is money back in your pocket. Just make sure you’re still buying only what you need and not splurging just because you have a coupon.
  • Purchase in bulk: If you have the storage space, it is often more cost-effective to purchase large quantities of paper goods and other products that will not spoil if not used immediately.
  • Plan your meals: In addition to making a list, try planning out your meals for the week. It’s another great way to stretch your groceries and your dollar if you can use some items in multiple ways. For example, you could roast a chicken one night and use the leftovers to make chicken salad or add to pasta sauce for another meal.
  • Join your grocer’s loyalty program: This is frequently completely free and gives you access to the store’s in-store promotions. There are also a number of free apps available to help you save money on groceries.

Another way to save money is to use the right credit card. Determine which of your credit cards provides the best spending rewards. Some provide cash back or bonus points for shopping at specific grocery stores.