Picking up Nickels

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

2009 Grocery spending down 12.0%

Now that I've finally recovered from my stint on Jury Duty, let's talk grocery prices. That 12.0% decrease in grocery costs last year marked the first time that my annual grocery spending has decreased since 2005, which is a tremendous feat for a family with growing children in the house. It also makes the prediction I made last year that my 2009 grocery spending would decrease from 2008 levels a winner. Perhaps it's time to buy a lottery ticket?

I had a little trouble maintaining the 13.6% year over year decrease I reported in my Fall update, but a double digit percentage decrease in grocery spending is still a pretty nice accomplishment. Unfortunately, I believe the major force behind that decrease was recession-driven and don't see it as being sustainable moving forward.

As the economy staggered through 2009, food producers and retailers offered more money-saving sales and promotions than I have seen in a long time. Those attractive deals did seem to slow down during the last quarter of 2009 and I have seen that trend continuing through Q1 2010.

Fortunately, the deals are not completely dead. A couple of weeks ago I doubled up on Conagra, Kraft, and Procter & Gamble promotions at Shaw's Supermarket and picked up a bunch of items for less than $10 out of pocket (after sale prices and coupons):

  • 10 bottles of Hunt's Ketchup
  • 2 cans of Chef Boyardee Ravioli
  • 1 can of Pam cooking spray
  • 1 box of Capri Sun juice bags
  • 4 cans of Pringles Chips
  • 2 packages of Kraft shredded cheese
  • 1 (8) roll package of Bounty paper towels

For better or worse, I think we're looking at a continuing rise in grocery prices during 2010. While I believe the economy will continue to improve, that will be accompanied by increasing inflation and fewer savings opportunities offered to consumers (like the lack of the kinda sorta annual gift card savings promotion at Shaw's this month). Once you throw in the impact of freezing temperatures and earthquakes on the produce crop, I don't see how food will not cost you more in 2010 than it did last year.



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