The most recent survey of grocery shoppers’ spending habits and attitudes by FMI – The Food Industry Association reveals surprising differences between the shopping habits of parents and those of consumers as a whole.

With summer vacation winding down and families returning to their normal routines, FMI’s 2023 U.S. Grocery Shopping Trends 2023 series “Back to School” report found that busy parents are utilizing online grocery shopping more than most consumers to help manage their busy schedules. Parents are increasingly becoming fans of convenient online shopping options provided by their grocers, with 42% reporting a year-over-year increase in frequency for grocery shopping online. As a group, parents are twice as likely to always shop online for their groceries than consumers as a whole, 24% to 12%.

“Whether it’s modifying the grocery list to ensure your children arrive at school charged with a nutritious breakfast, stocking up on the necessary elements for packing school lunches, ensuring there are healthy afterschool snacks available, accommodating ramped-up appetites at dinnertime, or adapting to more frequent family meals at home, school days dramatically impact American grocery shopping. This report takes the mystery out of what happens in the grocery aisles when the school doors open for another academic year,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, President and CEO of FMI.

With record-high temperatures and several extreme weather events, summer disruptions caused parents to alter their spending habits accordingly. Of those surveyed, 64% of parents report eating at home more than usual over the past few months, while 53% overall report eating at restaurants less often than usual. The report found that parents were significantly more likely to stock up on grocery staples in anticipation of extreme weather than other shoppers. Similarly, parents were more likely to buy more bottled water and hydration drinks than their counterparts.

FMI’s latest U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report also revealed:

  • Consumers are more likely to eat at home this year than last year, with 63% of parents and 59% of shoppers as a whole detailing this shift.
  • 59% of parents report cooking their own meals more frequently in 2023.
  • 47% of parents report an increase in healthy eating, compared to just 36% of shoppers overall.
  • 42% of parents report that they are more likely to rely on frozen foods this year, an increase of 10 percentage points over shoppers in general.

Overall, shoppers report a desire to continue many of these trends this fall. More than half of all shoppers say they plan to eat at home more, while 41% say they will eat out at restaurants less. With more shoppers planning to eat at home, 44% say they plan to prepare their own meals more, while nearly a third report they plan to eat more healthfully.