CHICAGO – Not only are consumers required to wear masks while shopping for groceries across the Unites States, most of them report paying more for their food. According to a recent survey by C+R Research, a Chicago-based marketing research company specializing in consumer behaviors, 85% of shoppers said meat, eggs and milk were the top three items they are paying more for since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic began. When asked how COVID-19 has affected their budget, shopping habits and diets, the majority (75%) of the 2,040 consumers in the survey also said they have been paying more for household goods since the pandemic started, especially cleaning supplies and toilet paper. Approximately 83% are still challenged to find grocery items they normally purchase and 75% said they feel uncomfortable while doing their grocery shopping.

Consumers’ perceptions derived from the survey are consistent with data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The 68% of survey respondents who said they are paying more for meat are supported by BEA data, which reports price increases of 10.3% for beef, 6.3% for poultry and 5% for pork. Similarly, prices of paper supplies have increased by nearly 9% and cleaning products by 5.4% since February 2020, BEA data stated.

In the six-plus months since the pandemic began, consumers in the survey reported eating less meat (43%), eating less poultry (33%) and buying groceries in bulk (30%) to offset the rising costs. Approximately 38% said they seek discounts when shopping and 26% shop around for groceries, while 31% said they avoid buying organic items. Overall, 65% of consumers in the survey said they have cut back on food spending. Most (88%) are concerned that prices for groceries will continue increasing and almost as many (85%) said they are worried shortages will continue to be an issue. These worries were linked to concerns over the likelihood of a second wave of COVID-19 cases in the United States.

The survey also concluded that 65% of consumers have changed their diet during the pandemic and 71% reported “stress eating” since it began.

As for grocery-shopping attitudes and behaviors, not only did most consumers in the survey say they are uncomfortable when shopping, a majority (69%) have tried grocery delivery or pick-up options for the first time since COVID-19 and 77% said they believe shopping for groceries will change permanently as a result of the pandemic.