• Last modified 490 days ago (Feb. 9, 2023)


Shoppers' choices shift with economy

Staff writer

With prices high on everything at food stores, local stores are seeing customers change shopping habits.

Peabody Market is selling more private-label foods instead of name-brand foods, owner Catherine Weems said.

“The private-label has definitely done better during this time of high prices,” she said.

People seem to be making fewer purchases and avoiding “luxury” items. They have become more conservative, Weems said.

“They just buy more staples because of the price of everything going so high,” she said.

Both availability of items and inflation have become progressively worse, she said.

Items are not always available from warehouses, which means they are not available on store shelves.

“We’re all suffering,” she said. “It’s eating at our ability to provide for our customers.”

She thinks customers may suspect stores are jacking up prices to gouge customers, but that isn’t true, she said.

“Everything’s going up around us,” Weems said.

Higher prices for fuel, transportation, utilities, and other essential items drive up the price of items on store shelves.

“I wish I had a crystal ball to say when prices are going to come down,” she said.

Weems said it was hard to tell how much change in customer purchases was driven by higher prices and how much was driven by the time of year. Most retail is slower in January after the holidays.

Greg Carlson, co-owner of Carlsons’ Grocery in Marion, said his store had been promoting private-label brands over name brands.

“We are trying to do that more,” he said. “You follow that ad, and you’re going to save money.”

He doesn’t see a need to replenish stocks of name-brand items as much as in the past.

Customers aren’t making many comments about their buying preferences, he said.

“The prices, my gosh, that’s scary,” he said.

Carlson said he wasn’t confident prices would drop anytime soon.

“I don’t think the forecast of prices dropping a whole lot looks good,” he said. “I think it’s the new norm right now.”

It’s even getting harder for him to find deals at food shows he attends.

“I used to go to food shows and buy things, but it’s getting to the point where, even buying in bulk, it’s hard to get a good deal,” Carlson said.

Last modified Feb. 9, 2023