Grocery Inflation Accelerates in March, Numerator Reports

Inflation Highest for Dollar Stores, Gen Z and Black Consumers; Lowest for Club Channel, Asian and Hispanic/Latino Consumers

Numerator, a data and tech company serving the market research space, has released its monthly inflation insights update to provide a view of rising prices through March 2022, with added context by consumer demographic segments. An ongoing survey of 10,000+ consumers provides additional detail around financial health, outlook, and spending. Overall, the rate of inflation has slowed for both Health & Beauty and Household products but continues to rise in Grocery categories, with the Club channel maintaining the lowest rates of inflation for three consecutive months.

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Sector Level Findings:

  • Grocery prices have steadily increased since April 2021. In March 2022, Grocery prices were up 11% vs YA, up from +10.3% in February 2022, and +9.1% in January 2022.
  • Household items inflation slows the most from February to March. Household product prices were up 11.3% vs YA in March 2022, down from +14.2% in February.
  • Health & Beauty inflation continues to slow. In March 2022, items in this category were 8.4% higher than a year ago, down from +9.6% in February, and 12.8% in January.

Grocery Inflation Findings:

  • Dollar store grocery inflation rate is nearly double other channels. Grocery prices sharply rose in the Dollar channel, up 21.6% vs YA (compared to 14.8% in February 2022). The second highest channel was Online (+13.2%), followed by Mass (+10.5%), Food (+9.6%), and Club (+7.5%).
  • Black consumers saw increased inflation as rates slowed for Asian and Hispanic / Latino consumers. Black consumers saw an increase in grocery prices, up 13.2% vs. YA in March from +10.8% in February. Grocery inflation slowed for both Asian consumers (+9.8 in March vs. +11.2% in February) and for Hispanic consumers (+10% in March vs. +10.2% in February)
  • All generations saw double-digit grocery inflation, with Gen Z most impacted. Consumers in the Boomers+ generation crossed into double-digit grocery inflation for the first time in March (+10.5% vs YA) but remained the least impacted generation compared to Gen X (+10.9%), Millennials (+11.1%), and Gen Z (+14.6%).
  • Low Income consumers continue to pay disproportionately more for groceries. Low Income consumers are paying 12.9% more for groceries than a year ago, compared to Middle Income (+11.1%) and High Income consumers (+10.2%).

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Consumer Survey Findings: 

  • Hispanic / Latino consumers reported an improvement in their financial situations over the past month, with 49.5% of consumers reporting a “Good” or “Very Good” outlook in March vs 47.7%% of consumers in February.
  • Gen Z was the only group to show a decline in financial security, as more of these consumers reported a “Poor” or “Very Poor” financial outlook in March than in February (17% vs 14.4%).
  • Fewer consumers say they have spare cash, most notably Asian consumers. More than 1 in 5 consumers (22.8%) say they do not have extra funds available, a trend even more pronounced among Asian consumers (28.6%).
  • Travel intentions continue to rebound, especially among Black consumers. As of March, 27.3% of consumers said they would use extra funds for vacations or travel, up from 25.8% in February, likely also impacted by seasonality. Among all consumer groups, Black consumers showed the largest increase of likelihood to travel, up from 24.2% in February to 29.2% in March.

Methodology: Percent changes in Numerator’s Price Pulse are calculated at a category level. Average price per item within a category is based on verified purchase data from over 100,000 Numerator panelists, and the monthly average price is compared versus the monthly average one year ago and two years ago. The Price Pulse includes a cross-channel view of prices, as well as channel-specific views and cuts by consumer demographic groups. Numerator’s Financial Outlook Tracker leverages an ongoing survey that collects approximately 10,000 responses from active shoppers each month. Consumers are asked to rate their current financial situation in addition to sharing spending intentions. The tracker has additional breakouts by ethnicity, generation, and income level.

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