Why Pandemic Grocery Shopping Costs You More

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Even as we're stretching our grocery runs out further and further, some of us may feel like our food bills are exploding. Even if you plan out what you're bringing home (and whether you're disinfecting it), at checkout, you might be paying double or more what you usually budget. All that on top of food shortages and supply chain breakdowns is making even the most mundane aspects of staying safely home a minefield of stress.


Some researchers at Indiana University may have an explanation for your wildly expanding spending under quarantine. In a new study, marketing experts looked at what scarcity does to your decision-making processes. Interestingly, the results were all over the place — when scarcity hits us, we actually stop associating price with quality, and we buy pretty much anything we can get our hands on.

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The research team goes on to talk about how this can help companies structure sales to encourage buying, but it also might be worthwhile for consumers to keep it in mind. There's a chance that if, say, you're used to relying on a store-brand product, your bills are going up because you're reaching for the name brand instead. It doesn't matter what you get, as long as you can get it. Whether that means buying more of the generic product or squirreling away the national brand, what you pay becomes moot to shoppers. So even though getting food is kind of a nightmare during the pandemic, keep shopping like a smart consumer. Make lists, follow them, and don't beat yourself up if the final bill is bigger than you anticipated.