Picking up Nickels

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

2008 Grocery spending up 5.6%

The 5.6% increase in grocery spending I experienced in 2008 was a fitting bookend to the 6% increase I experienced in 2007.

As I mentioned in my Fall update, I had pulled out all of the stops last year trying to reduce grocery spending. Ironically, I ended up building on the 4.1% YTD increase that I observed at that time as my Shaws gift cards were used up and I was buying more produce at the supermarket once my CSA share at a local farm had expired.

However, I am starting to think that things are turning around a bit with regard to grocery prices. It appears that the bursting of the commodity price bubble is finally beginning to filter down to consumer grocery prices. For example, ConAgra Foods (maker of Hunt's, Swiss Miss, Orville Redenbacher, et al.) and Unilever (maker of Ragu, Skippy, Hellmann's, et al.) had some very aggressive Q4 2008 promotions at Shaw's Supermarket where savvy shoppers could get a bunch of their products for free (or better!) after sale prices and coupons. I have to admit that in the 5+ years that I have followed my current grocery shopping strategy, I can't recall seeing multiple grocery promotions like this in such a short time frame.

In fact, Shaw's is currently running another nice Unilever promotion through 1/22/09 and last night I was able to buy the following items with a pre-sale price of $41.68 for $2.91 out of pocket (after sale prices and coupons):

Now, while the current economic environment does stink, I'm thinking that the negative inflation trend we're seeing for now will lead to more marketing promotions like these from grocery stores and manufacturers. Who knows, with a little luck maybe I'll actually see my 2009 grocery spending decrease from 2008 levels. :)



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