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FairfaxBusinessVirginians spending more on groceries than U.S. average

Virginians spending more on groceries than U.S. average

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Virginians expend slightly more, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of overall household spending, on food than those in the nation as a whole, according to a new report.

An analysis by Filterbuy found that percapita annual grocery spending in Virginia amounts to $3,538, compared to the national average of $3,480. Virginia residents allocate 8.3 percent of household spending to food, compared to a national rate of 8.2 percent.

And in each case, inflation is biting hard.

“Groceries are among the areas where inflation has challenged household spending this year,” Filterbuy analysts noted. “According to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food at home cost 6.4 percent more in 2021 than 2020. Prices for meat, poultry, fish and eggs alone increased by 12.8 percent over that span.


Spending on groceries varies from location to location. Different regions may have greater costs for food supply and distribution, real estate or labor that grocers pass on to consumers.

In dollars per capita, residents of New England – which is not a major agricultural producer and has high costs – lead all regions in grocery spending at $4,061. But as a percentage of total consumer spending, the Southeast (8.7%), Rocky Mountain (8.6%) and Southwest (8.3%) areas have the highest levels of spending on groceries, which in part reflects lower incomes in these regions.

Many of the states where residents spend the most on groceries are found in these regions as a result.

The data used in the analysis is from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. To determine the states where residents are spending the most on groceries, researchers at Filterbuy calculated annual grocery spending as a share of total spending for U.S. households. In the event of a tie, the state with the higher per-capita annual grocery spending was ranked higher.

(See the full data at https://filterbuy.com/resources/cost-of-groceries-by-state/.)

Inflation in the cost of groceries has been especially challenging for U.S. households, because consumers have also been buying more groceries in general during COVID. With more establishments closed or operating at limited capacity due to the pandemic, consumers were more likely to eat at home.

As a result, spending on groceries increased by 11.2 percent in 2020, while food services and accommodations saw a 20.5-percent drop.

Because food is a necessity, households were unable to avoid this increase in spending, in contrast to other categories like transportation services and energy that have seen large price increases during the pandemic but also significant drops in consumer expenditures.

The current run of inflation in the U.S. economy is putting pressure on household finances nationwide. The second half of 2021 saw several consecutive months of higher than usual price increases, reaching an overall 6.8-percent rate of inflation from November 2020 to November 2021.

Wages have also grown in recent months, but not at a rate fast enough to keep up with inflation, which is squeezing families’ budgets in key spending categories like housing, energy, transportation and food.

Continued supply-chain challenges are a primary driver of the recent price increases. Many suppliers and distributors have struggled with labor shortages and increased transportation costs, which have made it more challenging to get food products on grocery-store shelves.

Inconsistent supply has meant greater costs for stores (and ultimately, for consumers), and as current conditions persist into 2022, a scarcity of certain products could continue to push prices higher.

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