Rising grocery costs impacting consumers' shopping habits

Marked down milk at a Maxima grocery store in Räpina.
Marked down milk at a Maxima grocery store in Räpina. Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

Supermarket sales in Estonia decreased 2 percent on year last month. Traders confirm that people's shopping habits have changed as a result of rising grocery prices, but that's just the beginning — most groceries' prices remain on the rise, due to which an even bigger drop in sales can be expected.

Shoppers at Tallinn's Central Market admit that they're looking at where they can get goods for cheaper, as the rise in prices has been significant.

"I didn't keep track before; I do now," said Jaanus, a shopper at the market. "You just see that the prices of things you've bought before have changed."

"I used to shop more freely; I didn't look at prices," Tamara said. "Now we're looking at prices, are interested in prices, because everything's getting more expensive."

More price-sensitive customers have changed their shopping habits as well — they go to the store less often and buy more at once, but their selections are based on sales, and they're skipping more expensive goods.

"What has declined is fresh fish [sales]," said Talis Raak, head of purchasing at Rimi. "People have tended to trade it for meat, a cheaper alternative. We're seeing somewhat of a decline in dairy product and ready-to-eat food sales as well, which is apparently because people are cooking more at home, which is a cheaper alternative."

"Households may be making choices about what food ends up on the table across several stores," said Kristjan Anderson, director of business accounting at Selver. "People are going to several stores a little more often than they did before."

Grocery prices have not yet reached their ceiling, however — they remain on the rise, driven by increasing energy prices.

"Over the past two months, the increase in grocery prices has remained at around 20 percent, and it will apparently continue at this rate for the next couple of months," Anderson said.

"Right now we're seeing that quite a lot of price increases are still coming, and there's no way we can say that this tempo in terms of the future is slowing right now," Raak said.

Which is why stores are curbing the sales of ready-to-eat food somewhat and will start reviewing their other assortments of goods as well. Caviar may not disappear from store shelves completely, but its shelf space will likely shrink going forward.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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