The squeezed consumer 2023

Want a snapshot of today’s consumer?
Find out how Americans are coping with inflation,
and what’s changed since fall 2022. 

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Survey of 2,000 nationally representative working-age US consumers conducted on Attest in April 2023—comparisons made against data from October 2022.

Trend 1:  Fewer people are feeling the pinch than six months ago

Six months after our last survey, the data paints a brighter picture. The percentage of Americans who say they aren’t feeling the effects of inflation has increased by +2.7 percentage points to 20.0%. But we’re not out of the woods, with 80.0% of people still feeling the pinch to a moderate or high degree.

The upside: messaging around the cost of living will resonate with most consumers.

15.5% increase in consumers who aren’t feeling inflation

Trend 2: Overall, consumers less concerned about affordability

Concern about paying gas and electricity bills has dipped -9.9 percentage points to 31.1%, and worry about affording food has decreased by -3.8 percentage points to 38.2%. Meanwhile, the percentage of people who aren’t worried about paying for anything has grown by +10.5 percentage points to 29.3%.

The upside: With people feeling more confident, consumer spending may get a boost.

55.8% increase in consumers who are confident about affording things

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Trend 3: The weekly food shop is getting cheaper

In line with the decreased concern about affording food, we see that the cost of the weekly grocery shop is coming down. Americans estimate they spend an average of $109.00 on groceries right now. That’s a decrease of $2.19 compared to 6 months ago.

The upside: as food becomes more affordable, consumers will be more likely to purchase items not on their shopping list.

$2.19 decrease in average weekly grocery spend

Trend 4: Americans are trying harder to stick to a budget when grocery shopping

It’s not only easing inflation contributing to reduced grocery spending – consumers are also trying harder to stick to a budget at the supermarket. 51.0% of consumers say they control their grocery spend, which is a +4.3 percentage point increase. 

The upside: brands can support consumers with cost-effective recipe ideas and money-saving hacks.

9.2% increase in food budgeting

One of things we loved is the hands-on support Attest gives. The fact that we as marketers can feel confident in being able to run really interesting insights surveys is why we continue to work with Attest.

Lauren Sims, Head of Consumer Marketing, Trustpilot

Trend 5: Takeouts are still off the menu

A popular way for inflation-pressed consumers to cut back has been eating fewer takeouts, and this trend continues. 59.4% of consumers say they are getting takeout food less often: an increase of +3.0 percentage points.

The upside: supermarkets can steal custom from fast food restaurants with deals on prepared food.

5.3% increase in limiting takeouts

Trend 6: Conscious consumers forced to cut back

The amount consumers are willing to pay for environmentally-friendly products has fallen. Those prepared to pay “a lot more” falls -4.7 percentage points to 7.0%, while those who will pay “a moderate amount more” declines -5.2 percentage points to 14.5%. Older consumers are the least likely to pay extra.

The upside: environmentally friendly products remain in demand, with almost half of shoppers (43.0%) willing to pay a small premium.

31.5% decrease in willingness to pay high premiums for green products

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Trend 7: People are using more gas

With gas prices down from last summer’s peak, Americans are more likely to be driving. We see a -4.6 percentage point decrease in people trying to save money by not using the car (to 34.7%). We also see a -4.6 percentage point reduction in people trying to use less energy at home (to 41.8%).

The upside: out-of-town retail parks and superstores should benefit from increased car usage.

9.9% decrease in trying to save energy

Trend 8: Brand switching is slowing

While 49.7% of consumers say they are switching brands to save money, this figure has fallen by -3.2 percentage points, indicating that the trend for downtrading is leveling out. Younger consumers, in particular, appear to have stopped shopping around so much.

The upside: loyal customers are likely to be bigger brand advocates.

6.0% decrease in brand switching

The insights have been invaluable. I’ve used Attest to understand which messages resonate most with consumers, and also what attitudes are towards new healthcare trends.

Rebecca Porter, Consumer Research Manager, Walgreens Boots Alliance

Trend 9: Americans are saving less money

While life appears to be getting a little more affordable, it could be coming at a cost to consumers’ savings. The percentage of people with no monthly savings has risen by +3.4 percentage points to 18.1%. At the same time, those who are saving are saving less: only 32.8% of Americans save more than $100 each month, a reduction of -4.8 percentage points.

The upside: it’s a good time for financial services that support small savers.

12.8% decrease in Americans saving $100+ per month

Trend 10:  Consumers are feeling more financially secure

Despite having smaller savings pots, Americans feel more financially secure than they were six months ago (up from 4.9/10 to 5.5). Optimism for the future is also up (from 5.3/10 to 5.7), while happiness remains consistent at 6/10.

The upside: people can see a brighter future on the horizon and brands can build on this with optimistic messaging to buoy the public mood.

12.2% increase in feeling of financial security

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