Shopping hasn’t been much fun for a while. First COVID and supply shortages, now that painful moment at checkout bristling at the purchase total.

CPG is among the top categories in a state of disruption as consumers both pull back on spending and switch up how they spend. CivicScience saw this playing out early on in 2022 in grocery, specifically – and government data has since caught up. Recent reports show a slowdown in consumer spending, with the consumer-price index rising an estimated 7.9% in February. 

Staying ahead of the curve, new CivicScience surveys conducted this week reveal how U.S. consumers are responding to rising prices on consumable items. Data show that 70% have recently changed how they shop for groceries, while 66% have changed how they shop for household supplies and personal care products.

Among the reported changes, shoppers are most likely to find themselves searching for items on sale. More than 50% of those shopping for groceries and 40% of those shopping for household and personal care items say they are looking for sale items more than usual. 

A significant percentage are also opting to buy more private label brands over legacy brands when it comes to both groceries (38%) and other consumables (30%). 

The survey also shows that around one-quarter of respondents are changing where they shop for CPGs in search of better prices – and it’s likely hurting large regional grocers the most. The percentage of U.S. adults who purchase most of their groceries from regional chains (such as Safeway and Publix) rapidly declined between March and April, this month reaching the lowest point (36%) since CivicScience began tracking in 2015.

On the other hand, more people appear to be shopping at private membership retailers (e.g., Costco) as well as specialty grocers (e.g., Trader Joe’s), while big-box retailers (e.g., Walmart) and local grocery stores are staying the course.

A look at other retailers on the rise shows that discount retailer Dollar Tree continues to hold its recent gains in popularity, even after raising its base price to $1.25 per item. Today, nearly half of U.S. adults report they like or love shopping at Dollar Tree, outranking Dollar General (40%) and Family Dollar (34%). 

Dollar Tree even appears to outrank Aldi in terms of favorability, which was recently named the third largest grocer in the U.S. However, as past studies have shown (such as this one about Starbucks), favorability does not always equate to actual patronage.

In related trends, sticker shock felt in Q1 carries on into the new quarter. Price sensitivity has maintained its high since February, with half of adults feeling more price sensitive over the past 12 months. In addition, a growing number of people say they value price over brand. On the other end of the curve is a small but growing minority of people who currently feel less price sensitive and more motivated to shop by brand.