Americans Chowing Down on Cheaper Eats

Americans Chowing Down on Cheaper Eats

Food & Drink

Americans Chowing Down on Cheaper Eats


By Cari Martens

The struggling economy has led many U.S. citizens to the bargain aisle of grocery stores, to warehouse club stores and to the ‘Value Menu’ sections in fast food restaurants.

While most consumers aren’t going hungry, they are hungry for bargains. Brand name goods are being traded for generics and lattes are being shoved aside in favor of regular cups of Joe.

According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. sales of private-label food rose 10% in 2008, while branded food products were up less than 3% in ’08 vs. a year ago.

p(right caption). Sales of generics and private labels are up

In 2008’s fourth quarter, consumer spending on food fell at an inflation-adjusted 3.7% from the third quarter, according to data from the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. That is the steepest drop in the 62 years the government has tracked those figures.

Some analysts suspect that consumers are digging into their pantries and deep freezers before heading to the grocery store—and that’s a scenario that can’t last too long. Sooner or later those supplies run out.

Not all food-related businesses are hurting, of course. McDonald’s sales were up more than 7% in January.

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