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article imageShoppers Find New Ways to Stretch Food Dollars

By Christopher Wager     Oct 31, 2010 in Business
As the dollar shrinks and food costs climb grocery shoppers find new avenues of savings off the beaten path of mainstream food outlets.
Economics 101 teaches us that as wages go down the demand for inferior good goes up. That is exactly what's been happening around the country. According to findings posted on the Amber Waves Agriculture Website an extension of the U. S. government website on statistics reporting on agricultural and natural resource statistical information. Amber Waves reported during 2009 the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 1.8 percent, and is expected to go up again for 2010. The so called food at home spending was $417/month for an average family of four, with food being the one budget item a family can control over other fixed expenses such as rent or car payments. The downturn in the economy has lead families to shop at more discount retailers such as Aldi and Save-a-lot for private label goods.
The sales of stores pushing low prices and good-value jumped between 2001 and 2008 while traditional supermarket sales fell from 62.8 to 57.8 percent. At the same time, non-traditional grocers, for example, warehouse club stores and super-centers grew from 11.7 to 18.1 percent.
Shoppers looking for even more deals are starting to shop at no-frills, deep-discount retailers selling brand name food manufacturer's, surplus goods, inventory overstock, and reclaimed goods. Although food sales through stores selling surplus, overstocked, or damaged products have remained a small percentage of what gets sold in the U.S., they are playing a greater growing role in giving consumers the most for their money. One to mention is Amelia's Grocery Outlet, a salvage food chain in southeastern Pennsylvania, reported a 25 percent increase in sales in 2008 up from a 17 percent gain in 2007.
The CPI is expected to climb slightly with estimates around 0.5 percent as reported in a briefing released by the USDA in August 2010 the lowest annual increase since 1967. While "food-away-from-home" prices were expected to go up 3.5 percent. The predictions for continued economic downturn will continue to influence consumers to seek out discount supermarkets and non-traditional stores in order to get the most out of their food dollar and be able to provide for their families.
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