New CivicScience data show the toll of rising food prices on the QSR and grocery industries. But first, here’s the latest consumer concern and comfort data regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

After the level of concern about being out in public spaces increased a bit last week, CiviScience data show that the percentage of those ‘very’ concerned about being in public spaces dropped back down to levels seen two weeks ago. 

General concern about the Stealth Omicron variant decreased slightly this week as well, down four percentage points since last week. However, that may change as overall weekly case averages start to creep up again in the Northeast, driven largely by the BA.2 variant.

Comfort resuming normal activities increased this week for all measured areas, with comfort returning to work showing the highest increase (+6 pp), followed by comfort going out to eat (+4 pp).

Despite increasing comfort patronizing restaurants, plans to order food from a restaurant have dropped this week. Perhaps related, we’re observing an increasing concern about inflation among U.S. consumers. 

A Direct Hit on Fast Food and Grocery

Grocery buying habits are shifting due to rising prices. A stunning 93% of grocery shoppers have recently noticed higher than usual prices, with price increases being most noticeable for meats (80%), followed by produce (69%) and dairy products (68%). Many people have also noticed increases on menu items at fast food restaurants. More than half report that they’ve noticed these increases a lot recently. 

Noticing rising prices is one thing, but further findings show the direct effect on consumer behavior. As a result of rising prices, most adults have stopped themselves from purchasing certain grocery items and/or fast food in the last month, but more so at the grocery store.

Lower income individuals are being affected the most by rising food prices, as they’re more likely to have stopped themselves from both purchasing fast food and/or grocery items in the last month for this reason. However, behaviors have shifted across income brackets.