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Shopping around? How households adjusted food spending over the Great Recession

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  • Griffith, Rachel
  • O'Connell, Martin
  • Smith, Kate

Abstract

Over the Great Recession real wages stagnated and unemployment increased. Concurrently, food prices rose sharply, outstripping growth in food expenditure, and leading to a reduction in calories purchased. This has led to concern about rising food poverty. We study British households to assess how they adjusted to changes in the economic environment. We show they switched to cheaper calories; implying food consumption was smoother than expenditure. We use longitudinal data to quantify the way households lowered their per calorie spending, and show they done this in part by increasing shopping effort, and without lowering the nutritional quality of their groceries.

Suggested Citation

  • Griffith, Rachel & O'Connell, Martin & Smith, Kate, 2014. "Shopping around? How households adjusted food spending over the Great Recession," CEPR Discussion Papers 10096, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10096
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    Cited by:

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    2. Alena Bičáková & Guido Matias Cortes & Jacopo Mazza, 2021. "Caught in the Cycle: Economic Conditions at Enrolment and Labour Market Outcomes of College Graduates," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 131(638), pages 2383-2412.
    3. Martin O'Connell & Kate Smith & Rebekah Stroud, 2021. "The dietary impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," IFS Working Papers W21/18, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    4. Jean Hindriks & Leonardo Madio & Valerio Serse, 2021. "Promotion Ban and Heterogeneity in Retail Prices during the Great Lockdown," CESifo Working Paper Series 9074, CESifo.
    5. von Hinke, Stephanie & Leckie, George, 2017. "Protecting energy intakes against income shocks," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 141(C), pages 210-232.
    6. Xavier Jaravel & Martin O'Connell, 2020. "Inflation spike and falling product variety during the Great Lockdown," IFS Working Papers W20/17, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    7. Jaravel, Xavier & O'Connell, Martin, 2020. "Real-time price indices: Inflation spike and falling product variety during the Great Lockdown," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 191(C).
    8. Lester Lusher & Geoffrey C. Schnorr & Rebecca L.C. Taylor, 2022. "Unemployment Insurance as a Worker Indiscipline Device? Evidence from Scanner Data," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 14(2), pages 285-319, April.
    9. Brenna Ellison & Brandon McFadden & Bradley J. Rickard & Norbert L. W. Wilson, 2021. "Examining Food Purchase Behavior and Food Values During the COVID‐19 Pandemic," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 43(1), pages 58-72, March.
    10. Alena Bicakova & Guido Matias Cortes & Jacopo Mazza, 2021. "Make Your Own Luck: The Wage Gains from Starting College in a Bad Economy," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp698, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    11. Rishab Guha & Serena Ng, 2019. "A Machine Learning Analysis of Seasonal and Cyclical Sales in Weekly Scanner Data," NBER Chapters, in: Big Data for Twenty-First-Century Economic Statistics, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Vanessa M Oddo & Jessica C Jones-Smith, 2020. "Unemployment during the Great Recession and Large-for-Gestational-Age births," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(5), pages 1-12, May.
    13. Zeballos, Eliana & Dong, Xiao, 2021. "The Localized Effects of the COVID-19 Recession on Food Sales," 2021 Annual Meeting, August 1-3, Austin, Texas 313996, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    14. Syed Hasan & Nazmun Ratna & Shamim Shakur, 2019. "Exchange rate, remittances and expenditure of foreign-bornhouseholds: evidence from Australia," Discussion Papers 1901, School of Economics and Finance, Massey University, New Zealand.
    15. Stephanie von Hinke & George Leckie, 2017. "Protecting Calorie Intakes against Income Shocks," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 17/684, School of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    16. Rachel Griffith & Rodrigo Lluberas & Melanie Lührmann, 2016. "Gluttony and Sloth? Calories, Labor Market Activity and the Rise of Obesity," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 14(6), pages 1253-1286.
    17. Lester Lusher & Geoffrey C. Schnorr & Rebecca L.C. Taylor, 2022. "Unemployment Insurance as a Worker Indiscipline Device? Evidence from Scanner Data," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 14(2), pages 285-319, April.
    18. James Banks & Heidi Karjalainen & Carol Propper, 2020. "Recessions and Health: The Long‐Term Health Consequences of Responses to the Coronavirus," Fiscal Studies, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 41(2), pages 337-344, June.
    19. Aursland, Thor Andreas & Steen, Frode, 2021. "Unemployment shocks, cyclical prices and shopping behavior," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 3/2021, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
    20. Giri, Jeeten Krishna & Kumaresan, Talitha, 2021. "The business cycle, health behavior, and chronic disease: A study over Three decades," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 43(C).
    21. Hasan, Syed & Shakur, Shamim & Breunig, Robert, 2021. "Exchange rates and expenditure of households with foreign-born members: Evidence from Australia," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 188(C), pages 977-997.
    22. Dong, Xiao & Zeballos, Eliana, 2021. "COVID-19 Working Paper: The Effects of COVID-19 on Food Sales," USDA Miscellaneous 309615, United States Department of Agriculture.
    23. Castiglione, Concetta & Mazzocchi, Mario, 2019. "Ten years of five-a-day policy in the UK: Nutritional outcomes and environmental effects," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 185-194.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    nutrition; opportunity cost of time; shopping behaviour;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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