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March, 2024

ACCC survey finds Aussie households cutting corners on groceries amid rising living costs

Younger Australians and lower-income households are spending up to a quarter of their net income on groceries, according to responses to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Supermarkets Inquiry consumer survey.

The survey found that households are reducing their grocery bills by shopping around for savings, substituting fresh food with frozen, and cutting back on non-essential items. Some have even reported skipping meals or sacrificing meals to feed their children properly.

Over 13,000 consumers have responded to the survey so far, and the ACCC is urging more people to do so before it closes on Tuesday, 2 April. The ACCC is seeking to deepen its understanding of how Australian consumers shop for groceries, particularly in the wake of the Covid pandemic and recent sharp increases in the cost of living.

“Survey responses give us a very important insight into consumers’ everyday experience of the sector that will complement our investigation into the pricing practices of the supermarkets,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh.

The ACCC also wants to understand what current supermarket practices concern consumers the most. These survey results will inform the ACCC’s assessment of competitive dynamics in the sector and help to identify issues for further exploration as part of the Supermarkets Inquiry.

“Having responses that reflect the whole community’s experience will help us to identify the right issues that need to be explored more deeply in our inquiry. Findings from the consumer survey will be included as part of the ACCC’s interim report, due by the end of August,” Keogh said. “A clear theme in the survey responses so far is that consumers consider the price of groceries to be a major factor in the cost-of-living crisis.”

The consumer survey as part of the ACCC’s supermarket inquiry, with the competition regulator instructed to investigate matters such as the supermarkets’ approach to setting prices, the role of small and independent retailers (including those in regional and remote areas), and the impact of increased data collection and other technological developments. The ACCC last conducted a comprehensive inquiry into the grocery sector in 2008.

Grocery supply chain participants and other interested parties are also invited to make submissions in response to the issues paper via a guided submissions process on the ACCC’s consultation hub until 2 April 2024.