NPD report: Thriftier post-recession consumers stretch food dollars

Chicago -- A report released Tuesday by The NPD Group said that U.S. consumers have emerged from the recession with a honed ability to stretch their dollars and, now faced with rising food costs, they are turning to the cost-savings tactics they’ve mastered over the past few years.

“During the recession consumers adopted thriftier spending behaviors and as time went on they became comfortable with making concessions and getting by with less,” said Dori Hickey, director of product development at NPD and author of "What’s Next on the Road to Recovery."

“At the height of the recession consumers said they used coupons more, were stocking up on sale items, buying more private labels, shopping at discount stores more, among other money-saving strategies. With food prices rising and consumers experienced at getting the most from their food dollars, consumers are going to be increasing these types of behaviors once again.”

According to NPD’s The Economy Tracker, which monitors consumer sentiment about the economy and spending, a greater percentage of consumers, 21.9%, plans to increase their spending on groceries over the upcoming months, which is up from 16.6% in February.

In March, 40.1% of consumers voiced plans to spend more on gasoline over the upcoming months, up from 27.6% in February.

With increased spending on commodities such as groceries and gasoline, value and price are once again top-of-mind with the majority of consumers. According to The Economy Tracker, 74% of consumers strongly agreed that they expect coupons and special deals will be much more important in deciding what to buy. Sixty-seven percent said that they would shop less in general and 53% said that they would be buying in bulk.