Holiday shopping puts a squeeze on grocery budgets

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Shoppers attempting to find a gift for everyone on their list are becoming stingier on their grocery spending during the last month of the year.

Consumers are making an effort to lower food expenditures in December, likely due higher bills stacking up as Christmas approaches. An online survey found consumers were planning to decrease the amount of money they spend on meals at home and away from home by about three percent this month. The holidays ahead will lead to more meals at home as respondents expect to spend slightly more for meals at home in the next two weeks and anticipate a two percent drop in spending on meals outside the house.

The price consumers are willing to pay for meat is lower, with declines of more than 10 percent for chicken breast, down 10 percent, deli ham, down 15 percent, and chicken wings, down 19 percent. Smaller declines in the price consumers were willing to pay were observed for steak and pork chops, both falling about four percent. The price consumers are willing to pay for both steak and pork chops has fallen recently. Steady is 32 cent per pound lower than the October survey, pork is 19 cent below two months earlier.

Seeking a cheaper alternative, consumers are willing to pay more for hamburger meat, which is up almost six percent in December. The survey of over 1,000 individuals shows consumers on average are willing to spend 28 cents more for hamburger in December than they were in October. The price average is encouraging to the beef industry as beef prices remain near record highs as 2013 comes to a close.

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Survey results shows shoppers continue to expect higher beef, chicken and pork prices, but will save by purchasing cheaper protein options like chicken.

The Food Demand Survey is a monthly report completed by  Jayson Lusk and Susan Murray at the Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Economics.

See the report results.



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