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Albertan households spending less on food

Albertan households spending less on food

Posted on: 12/13/2018 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team

​​Judging by the lineups at grocery store checkouts, it may be hard to believe, but Albertans are spending considerably less on food than we were a few years ago.

According to fresh data from Statistics Canada on spending patterns by Canadians, the average household in Alberta spent $6,424 on food purchased from stores in 2017. That’s down 10 per cent from the peak amount spent in 2015. It’s the second consecutive year of decline.

Food purchased in restaurants is down even more—about $2,668 per household—a drop of 13 per cent from 2015. This figure seems to contradict data regularly featured in The Owl: total restaurant and bar receipts. In recent months, receipts are at or near record highs. The explanation is population growth and tourism, which will boost total spending at restaurants, while average spending per household remains lower.

The drop in food consumption is even more striking when inflation is taken into account. Since 2010, spending on food purchased in stores is up only 1 per cent, but prices are up 15 per cent. This suggests we are either purchasing less volume of food or are spending more carefully—watching for sales, using coupons and buying in bulk.

The same pattern exists for restaurant food. Average spending per household is up 6 per cent, but menu prices are up a whopping 20 per cent! That means the volume of food we buy in restaurants is actually down about 14 per cent.

Survey of household spending 2017, graph​​​​​

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