File photo: African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Local consumers - beset by a storm of rising prices - have dropped an unprecedented three grocery categories from their shopping basket, the latest Nielsen Shopper graphics Syndicated Report shows.

Categories that recorded the biggest declines include household/cleaning goods, no longer seen as a necessity, dropping by 6%. Beverages followed suit with a drop of 6%, with carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) hit hard.

Nielsen CPG client service director Kelly Arnold said contributing factors may be the shift in volumes from 500ml to a 450ml size bottle among some top brands plus an influx of other brands carving out a market share and spreading their national footprint.

The Nielsen report looks at shifts in consumer purchasing behaviour within 4000 representative households across the country on a quarterly basis.

“It’s no secret that South African consumers are experiencing a severe wallet squeeze thanks to a raft of rising costs including spiralling petrol and electricity prices, the implementation of a sugar tax and a VAT increase to 15%. The effect that this has had on consumer behaviour is profound.”

Arnold said consumers now purchase around 68 categories per year. “We have seen a move towards consumers spending more on dry groceries and perishables with staples remaining stable. The highest amount of spend is on frozen chicken and ready to eat cereals, sugar and UHT milk (a long-term trend) and canned meat, a switch from cold meats because of the listeriosis scare."

Consumers are also limiting trips to the shop to 60 on average. The top up shop that used to be twice or three times a week has dropped to once every two weeks, with spend per trip now averaging at R210. “Consumers are shopping less and spending slightly less.”