Millions of Australian households are suffering through serious financial stress every time their shop at the supermarket, with the average weekly spend on groceries hitting $188.
Some 42 per cent of households, or an estimated 3.9 million, said their grocery bill was one of their chief financial stressors, a 26 per cent increase, or a bump of 1.5 million new households from just two years ago.
Moreover, nearly all Australians are now pursuing strategies to save money at the checkout, with 92 per cent of Australians altering their shopping habits, according to a Finder survey of 1002 Australians.
More than half of shoppers now bulk buy kitchen staples to cut costs and 61 per cent, or some 5.1 million households, visit multiple grocery stores to secure the best prices.
And some 38 per cent of Australians now search for coupons to secure discounts.
Finder consumer research head Graham Cooke said the weekly $188 bill marked a $10 increase from two years ago.
The weekly increase means an extra $520 cost per household over 12 months or $4.8bn more nationwide based on Australia’s 9.275 million households.
“Many are struggling to afford the bare necessities and don’t want to pay more than they need to for food,” he said on Thursday.
“The cost-of-living crisis is putting a lot of pressure on budgets and we are seeing a resulting rise in financial stress reported by Aussie families.
“Shoppers are fearful of getting to the grocery checkout, worried about what the total will come to.”
To save on groceries, Mr Cooke recommended households “shop around” to exploit price fluctuations between stores.
He also said to shop less often to reduce “impulse purchases”.
“Opt for generic brands where possible and take inventory of what you already have at home before you get to the store,” he said.
“Download the online shopping apps from the big supermarkets, you can use them to check local pricing.”
Australia’s growing supermarket stress comes as the government investigates allegations of price gouging at the major supermarkets.
A report into unfair pricing practices by former Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Allan Fels AO concludes “prices in Australia are often too high reflecting the many markets where there is less than fully effective competition.
“Not only are many consumers overcharged continuously but ‘profit push’ pricing has added significantly to inflation in recent times.”
The report backs the government’s review of the supermarkets.